Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Matthew 24:32-35: [Jesus is saying,] "From the fig tree learn its' lesson: as soon as its' branch becomes tender and puts out its' leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that He is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away."
Jesus was asked, "When is the end of it all going to happen.?" Jesus then begins to teach His disciples what must take place before the end of the world, the end of everything will take place. He wants His disciples to:
What are the signs? What am I looking for? Am I looking for behaviors, patterns of life, and the like? And then, after I watch all these things, what am I learning?
It is our calling to watch what is happening in the world. We observe how the world is going "to hell in a hand basket." The world is so "me centered" it's ridiculous. For example, people miss behave because they want someone's attention. They want someone to love them, yet no one is watching. And that is when bad behavior happens.
The point is, Jesus wants us to watch what the world is doing and learn from it.
We learn by observation. We learn and then do things based upon what we learned. Jesus uses a great example of watching and learning. What do you learn by watching the fig tree grow? You learn that soon the fig tree will blossom and grow and then you'll be able to harvest its' fruit and eat.
What are you learning from the ways of the world and what is happening? Are you learning anything about yourself? I hope so. I hope that you're learning that you share the same characteristics and the same core as everyone else. You are a sinner, too. You're not "better" than anyone else because you're a Christian. The difference between you and the world is, you KNOW AND BELIEVE that Jesus is Your salvation. That is what you learned from His Word, which will never pass away.
Now what are you willing and able to do based upon what you learned about yourself? Are you going to take that Word of God and live your life according to it? Are you going to share that Word that changed your life that can change the other person's life with him or her?
The answer to all three questions is, "Yes with the help of God." You are a Christian when you believe in your heart that Jesus forgave you by means of His death and gave you a new life through His resurrection. You can, AND WILL, do these things because God is in you.
Are you perfect? No. Are you forgiven of all your sins? YES! So stand up and stand out. Your faith and life is equipped by Jesus' Word. Your hope is encouraged by His grace and forgiveness. And His love engages you to serve and grow and live.
Watch and Learn.
August 27, 2018
Philippians 4:8-9: Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Have you ever tried to find "the holy grail?" What I mean is that elusive good, that is said, is in all of us? Paul is, for all intents of purpose, is telling us to search for the good, the noble, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy.
It is an elusive search, isn't it? After all, look at the world, Everybody is out for themselves. There is no community, there is no honor, loyalty, nothing commendable, and nothing seems to be trustworthy. Do you want to know why?
Sin is the root answer. We are conceived sinful. This means there is no connection to God. It means we do not have the linkage to the source of anything Paul describes.
Again we ask, to where to we go for truth, honor, justice, purity, loveliness, commendable, excellence, praise? We go to God. We go to the ONLY one who is all of the above. We go to Jesus Christ, His Son, our Savior and Lord and His sacrifice that forgave our sins and freed us from the power, impact, and devlishness of sin. We have a new life to seek out God in all His glory.
And we go to the Church, the Holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection and the body and the life ever lasting. The Church is the people and the place where we learn and grow and receive and hear of God's grace and love. It is through the Church that we receive the answers and source of our search. It is in and through the Church and the Holy Bible that the Holy Spirit works.
The holy grail is God and through the Church. Your search begins and ends here.
And come to Faith Lutheran Church and School. You'll find what you're looking for here.
Wednesday, August 22, 2018
Psalm 100: Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness. Come into His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God! It is He who made us, and we are His. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name! For the Lord is good, His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations.
There was a lady in one of the congregations I served who commented on the reality that the congregation did not sing out loud. They sang quietly. Ethel said, "I can't sing. I make a croaking sound." I said to her, "It's all about making a joyful 'noise' to the Lord."
In our text, God doesn't call us to have "perfect pitch" or sing loudly, so loudly that it drowns every one else out. God wants us to make a joyful noise.
There are couple of reasons.
He IS GOD!
There is no other. He is IT! God made the world, the universe, and all that is in it. God created us and placed us in a position in authority over the entire creation. WE ARE HIS. We were, are, and always will be, people of God. And when we put our faith and trust in Him and Jesus Christ who died to forgive our sins and rise to bring to us God's new life free from sin, we for Him, with Him, and by Him. We follow our Lord and praise His name.
His Steadfast Loves Endures
God will always, always, always love us. There is never a time in our lives that He does not. At the same time, God love includes a time of discipline, correction, and rebuking. God, because He loves us, allows us to fall and fail because we are sinful and sinners. He does it to lead us to repentance, to contrition, and to FORGIVENESS. And because God loves us, He sent Jesus to be the sacrifice of sacrifices that forgives our sins and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. God, through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, gives us a new life to believe, know, and follow Him. And thereby praise Him for all that He's done.
So let us make a joyful noise for all God has done, and continues to do, for us.
Monday, August 20, 2018
Mark 10:15-16: [Jesus is saying,] "Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." And He took in His arms and blessed them, laying His hands on them.
Faith Lutheran School starts its' new school year next Monday. So what better time to dive deep into the the artery of our Vision, "Loving our Children." And what better text for our topic than what Jesus says about His love for children. And for adults. It's all about the:
State of Faith:
Jesus uses the phrase, "like a child." A child believes and trusts. A child, even though the child is rebellious many times, does trust and believe. The child will push the envelope and patience of the parents. Yet the child also believes and trusts that his/her parents will always be there.
Here Jesus is saying to the adults, some who were prohibiting the children to come to Jesus, "If you want to be in my Kingdom, you will need to trust me like your child trusts you. Believe in me and you will enter my Kingdom."
Where is the state of your faith? Is it, "Just the facts, ma'am." When you begin to think about that, then it's no faith at all. There is no trust. It's all about what you can do, see, touch, taste, smell, and hear.
On the other side of the coin, faith trusts, faith receives, faith realizes that it is about the work of Jesus and not about me. Faith goes beyond the sight, the sounds, the smells, and the works. The state of your faith is believing in what Jesus did, trusting in His promises, and relying on God that He does, and will do, what He says.
And then, you're in the kingdom.
Are you ready to put your faith in the hands of the man from Galilee? Let's do it.
Wednesday, August 8, 2018
Exodus 34:29: When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.
Have you ever heard about a person "glowing" after being in the presence of someone they love? "She was simply radiating." is a sentence similar to what I heard before or after a wedding ceremony.
So if someone was "radiating" in a wedding ceremony, think about being in the presence of God. That is what happened with Moses. He was glowing, much like the picture below.
People say, "That was cool then. Moses was up on the mountain or in the Tabernacle with God. Of course he's going to glow. But that doesn't happen now."
Really? Do we diminish the presence of God that much? Or, do we think that God isn't in the world today? The reason we think, is that there is so much sin and sorrow and hurt in the world. How can God even be here?
He is here. He IS HERE! For us as Christians, this is critical and crucial. For one, Jesus said, "Whenever two or more are gathered in my name, I am with them." And at the same time, God is with us whenever and wherever we go.
We are glowing when we gather in His presence. We are filled with the Holy Spirit through the Word and through the Sacraments. AND we carry that presence into the community. And through faith in Jesus, we will not let the glow fade. Because of Jesus and our faith in what He did, we will carry the glow of grace to the world.
Dear God continue to pour out Your Spirit upon Your Church and lead us to share and show the glow of Your grace, Amen.
Tuesday, August 7, 2018
Matthew 8:5-8, 10, 13: When He [Jesus] had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to Him, appealing to Him, "Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly." And He [Jesus] said to him, "I will come and heal him." But the centurion replied, "Lord I am not worthy to have You come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed." ... When Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who followed Him, "Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith." ... And to the centurion Jesus said, Go; let it be done for you as you have believed." And the servant was healed at that very moment.
Have you ever believed in something so strongly that you never let go of it? Was you faith so strong, that nothing would ever break your trust? I dare say, that this level of faith happens far less than I want it to.
There is much about this event in Jesus' life. And there are two points about it I want to make. They are:
The centurion KNEW what Jesus could do. He believed it to the point that Jesus did not even have to come to the house. The centurion BELIEVED that Jesus would heal his servant. There was no need for the centurion to come. In other words, the centurion could have said, "Jesus, I know that you will heal my servant. I am not worth the effort for you to come into my home."
Are we that strong and humble in our faith in Jesus? I dare say that we want to be more like the centurion than we are. We have a very hard time believing that strongly. We have too many doubts, too many reasons that lead us away from that level of faith. So what do we do?
Let Go and Let God. Focus on what Jesus did.
What Jesus Did:
There were probably a lot of reasons that would have easily kept the centurion from believing in what Jesus could have done. He didn't let it. He let his faith rule his life and not the reasons why not. He trusted Jesus and what Jesus did.
And so will you. Trust Jesus. Jesus will do what He will do. Jesus heals lives by means of His life, death, resurrection, and ascension. Jesus restores lives by His life. By His wounds we are healed.
Believe that. Believe in Him. Father help me believe more fully, Amen.
Monday, August 5, 2018
Colossians 4:3-4: At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the work to declare the mystery of Christ on account of which I am in prison - that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
"Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?" Detective Carter speaks loudly at Detective Lee from Hong Kong in the movie "Rush Hour."
We all struggle with being heard AND being understood. St. Paul is no exception in our passage today. Paul wants to make sure that:
The Opportunity to Speak:
We all want the chance. We all want the God give opportunity to share the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. AND at the same time, we don't want it.
Sharing the Gospel puts us on the spot. There is no hiding behind vailed actions. We stand up and we stand out. Once the words are out there is no turning back. Part of us, the human part, doesn't want to stand out. The saint part wants to "boldly go where no man has gone before." Yet here is the point. God will, and does, open doors to speak the Gospel whether we want to or not. So, when you recognize the opportunity, seize it. God will guide your words because they'll not be your words. They'll be HIS!
The Clarity of What to Say:
Because the words are His coming out of our mouths, they will be clear. So let God speak and get out of His way.
Easier said than done. We get tongue tied all the time. And I'm not referring to speaking about God and for God only. I sometimes trip over my own tongue and gibberish comes out.
Does the same thing happen to you? Of course it does. And the possibility speaking gibberish is scary, it's fearful, and it causes us to freeze in our tracks.
At the same time, we can give thanks to God because it is God the Holy Spirit who gives us the right words to say and the clarity of words that are said. God will make sure we are saying the words from Him that will impact our hearers with conviction of sin and surety of salvation. There is nothing to do but to trust God to implant the right words.Then say them.
Dear God, thank You for Your truth and Your grace to share to those around me, Amen.
Wednesday, August 1, 2018
Luke 19:5-6: And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today." So he hurried and came down and received Him joyfully.
There is an old poster that has a picture of "Uncle Sam." You know, the white haired man with the stars and stripes top hat and suit. He is looking right at house, pointing a finger at you and the caption read, "I Want YOU." And no matter where you were in front of the poster, the finger pointing at you, stayed pointed at you.
Jesus: "Zaccaeus: I Want YOU!"
Now, let's go to Jesus and Zacchaeus. I can picture it. Jesus, stopping in the middle of the street, looks up, points at Zacchaeus and says, "I Want YOU."
What does Jesus want Zacchaeus for? Jesus wants him because here is a man lost is his sins. Zacchaeus is chasing after the wind of wealth, status, and the like. Jesus wants Zacchaeus to change his ways. Jesus wants Zacchaeus and his life to be saved.
And Jesus is the one who can do it. Jesus came to seek out sinners in need of salvation. Jesus came to seek out YOU. Jesus came to save YOU.
Jesus Wants YOU
How did Jesus save you? Jesus was, and is, and forever will be, the sacrifice that God the Father required and commanded in order for salvation to occur. Jesus bore the curse of sin by being hung on a "tree," the cross. Jesus shed His perfect and innocent blood in order to spare us from death and hell. Jesus' body was battered, bruised, and broken. Jesus' blood was poured out upon the ground to wash you as white as snow, to cleanse you from all unrighteousness and sin.
Jesus wants YOU. Jesus came to seek YOU out and save YOU. How will you respond?
Holy Spirit, lead us to follow You as we respond to Jesus' call, 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.