Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Deuteronomy 32:39: “[God is speaking to Moses], ‘See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.' "
God has it all. There is nothing that God doesn't know. There is nothing that God cannot do. Then why do we fixate on one side of what God knows and does?
We gravitate to all the death and destruction in the world and we blame God for it. We are pulled to the "guilty" judgement of God. We think that God is arbitrary, judgemental, angry, and one-sided. No wonder people do not think that God is love.
We don't see the other side of God. We don't see that God brings life, healing, restoration, and salvation. We don't see that God is fair, balanced, strong, and loving. Why don't we?
It's because we're sinners. We are incapable of knowing God as who He fully is. Because we are sinners, conceived in that condition, we can't see God as the one who takes away life AND gives life. We don't see God letting injury happen WHILE AT THE SAME TIME bringing healing and strength. Because of our root sinfulness we are unable to experience the deliverance from sin and death to life right now in God as well as eternally.
AND YES! There is a way to break away from sin. His name is Jesus. Jesus came and gave His life for our lives. Jesus rose and we rise with Him to live today as well as forever. WHEN WE BELIEVE by means of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God, we now see God as He truly is. We experience God in all of who He is. Through faith we see God as He truly is. The wages of sin is death. Believing in Jesus and what He did brings life. God allows injuring and hurts. He also brings healing and strength through the Word of Life and people who care. God always loves, always nurtures, and always cares. Through faith in God, who is Father, Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, we see Him more fully and joyously. Dear God, lead our hearts and minds to see You as who You really are, Amen!
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Romans 12:19: Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
I can see where the Roman Catholic church back in the days of Martin Luther got the idea that God was angry, waiting to "zap" a person to hell for disobeying His will and the laws of the church. That is the message received by the people, who included Martin Luther. He was constantly "looking over his shoulder," waiting to see if God was going punish him for his sin. One of Luther's early questions was, "Why are you so angry, God?" He misunderstood vengeance.
Luther thought that God was dispensing His vengeance in the same manner that people do; with fear and anger. "I'll get back at him for hurting me." is what WE think is vengeance. That's NOT vengeance. That's revenge. They are two DIFFERENT things.
Vengeance is based strictly upon innocence or guilt. Vengeance is based upon, "You sinned. It's against God's Law. There is consequence and punishment." Yet people continuing to think God is angry at them. For example, "What did I do to deserve my house to be flooded out and I can't live in it anymore? Is God angry with me?"
No, God is not angry with you. You didn't do anything that angered God to send the hurricane. The hurricane is a consequence of a broken creation. It is affected by sin. That which God created good and perfect was ruined by man's disobedience. And man continues to be disobedient. We deserve the consequences of our sin. We deserve God's vengeance.
And God's vengeance was poured upon Jesus. You are the beneficiary of Jesus' death upon the cross. Jesus received the punishment and consequences for your sins so that you won't have to. Jesus experienced "man's inhumanity to man." Jesus' own people brutalized Him and the Romans poured their malice and hatred of Jews onto Jesus. That is why Jesus' torture and death was so gruesome.
Jesus didn't deserve the brutality. At the same time, He took it so that we are forgiven. Jesus received God's vengeance that was supposed to go to you along with every person from every age all over the world. When you believe in Jesus and what He did, YOU ARE SAVED! Dear God, lead me to understand more fully Your vengeance, Amen.
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Hebrews 7:1-3: For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother tor genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.
This coming Sunday is the day on which we at Faith Lutheran Church and School offer our financial pledge to God through Faith Lutheran Church and School. We are offering our financial pledge to GOD.
Why do you think that Abraham gave one tenth of the "spoils of war" to Melchizedek? Here is a man who appeared from nowhere, blessed Abraham, and Abraham responded. Would you do that? Would you give to someone who gave to you a blessing one tenth of your income? In a word, "YES!" when the "man" is God.
Abraham was blessed by God. Abraham responded by giving one tenth of the income. You and I are blessed by God. We are blessed by Jesus' life, death, resurrection, and ascension. We are blessed by the blood that was shed and the body that was broken. We are blessed by means of the Holy Spirit to believe in all of what God did for us. Through our faith and trust in God we give back to Him one tenth of our income. We give to GOD through Faith Lutheran Church and School. We give to the "King of Righteousness," for that is what the name Melchizedek means. Dear God, thank You for Jesus. Lead us to give to You. In Jesus' name, Amen!
Thursday, September 14, 2017
Exodus 31:1-5: The LORD said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft."
God gave the skills to these men in order to use them for building the Tabernacle for the worship of God's people. You read that right. God gave them the talents and skills.
Many people seem to dismiss the reality that God is the giver and creator of everything. That is because many people dismiss God. They don't think that God is real.
Yet the Good news is, God is real. God is still actively creating, nurturing, and sustaining life. God is the designer of procreation. It is the miracle of life. And when God creates, He creates people with "in bred" talents and skills in order to be used for God's purpose and the service to others. That is the reason why we have talents and skills.
So God has filled you with the Holy Spirit so that you believe, trust, and love God as He gave to you salvation. God the Father gave Jesus to you so that your sins are forgiven and that you have eternal life. He gave you your talents and skills to put to use on His behalf, whether it's on the building, in the office, reading the lessons, teaching school and Sunday School, leading people into a relationship with God, caring for God's finances, and the like. You are uniquely and wondrously made by God for acts of service so that the Kingdom of God grows. Dear God, lead me to use my skills and talents to bring others closer to you, Amen
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
1st Corinthians 3:5-6: What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.
We can almost be fatalistic. We can look at the end of the passage, read "but God gave the growth," and say to ourselves, "Why bother serving? God's gonna do what God's gonna do." We could do that. But that's not what the passage is saying.
We use our S.H.A.P.E., which stands for Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, and Experiences, and put it into practice. What ever we do, God makes the growth happen through what we do. We do the work, we serve people with the love of Christ, and we bring the Gospel to people in their situations and lives. God does the hard work. God the Holy Spirit creates faith, strengthens faith, and builds up faith in all of His people. God the Holy Spirit uplifts people when their down, strengthens people when they're weakened, and moves them to greater acts of services when they're out of gas.
God is the one who does it all THROUGH US. It's not that we're special, or important, or favored. Christians are not "better than everybody else." We're sinners and we struggle with sin daily. And we also believe that God has saved "a wretch like me." God works through struggling believers. God works through tired believers. God makes growth happen. We are servants of the most high God who gave forgiveness to sinners, life to those who are dead in sins, and G.R.A.C.E., which stands for God's Riches At Christ's Expense, that lives out Christ's love for us daily.
God grows us AND those people for whom we serve. God grows our hearts and minds and faith along with hearts and minds and faith of those for who we serve. God makes it happen. Dear God, move us to serve so that You make us grow, Amen.
Thursday, September 7, 2017
Ecclesiastes 3:1: For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
We know that we have time for everything that we need, and want, to get done. After all, the Bible passage tells us so. So if there is time for everything, does that mean we can sit back and wait to do something? Does that mean there are certain things we can set aside because something else becomes "more fun?" After all, there is "a time for every matter under heaven." What happens to something that should be done gets put aside for something else? For the most part, it doesn't get down. That is a form of procrastination.
This passage is used as an excuse, or a rationalization, many times to put something that needs to be done aside. For example, you have a report from a meeting that needs to get done by Friday. Today is Tuesday. So you put off doing the report today because you think you have "time." So you start to do others things that are more enjoyable to do than a report. All of a sudden, you think, Friday morning is here and the report isn't even started. Now you're scrambling because you chose to do other things than the report. So the report is hurried and rushed and not so good and everything else isn't getting done that needs to.
Here's the deal. Friday didn't come up all of a sudden. It was coming up and you knew it. You procrastinated doing the report because you thought that you had "plenty of time." And you didn't.
Our verse says that we have time to do all the things that we need and want to do. So we need to manage our time better in order to do what needs to be done "in time." And we can take an example of how to manage our time that we have. Even before God created time, He had planned what was going to happen when Adam and Eve sinned. God had it all timed out. God announced that salvation was coming, after Adam and Eve sinned and plunged all of us into sin. And according to His timing and plan Jesus, God and man combined, came to earth to bring that salvation to completion. God did not procrastinate. At just the right time, Jesus came and fulfilled all of God's Law, sacrificed Himself to forgive sins, and rose to life to promise a new life here and forever. God got it done when it was supposed to be done.
So when things need to be done, do them. You have the time right now. God, lead us to use Your time wisely and in accordance with Your will, Amen.
Wednesday, September 6, 2017
Mark 1:14-15: Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
When we actually think about time, it's about getting something done. "You need to finish cleaning that room before your father gets home." "You have two days to get that proposal done." "You've got four days to get that sermon ready to preach." We all have deadlines. We all have things to do "in time."
What if there was something that was already done? What if there is something that we have that we don't have a deadline to get it done? What if there was someone who did something for us so we don't have to?
"The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand." Jesus is telling us that everything as far as our salvation is done. The Kingdom of God has arrived in Jesus. All the law and the prophecy is now fulfilled, completed, and taken care of, with the arrival of Jesus. We don't have to worry about our relationship with God. The Kingdom came when Jesus arrived to fulfill God's law, be the sacrifice so our sins are forgiven, and rise to give us new life now and forever.
Since salvation is assured and the Kingdom is here, our only thing we have to get done is "repent and believe in the Gospel." Turn aside from the ways of the world. Turn aside from worry and doubt. Turn aside from all of that and turn to Jesus. Turn to Jesus, believe in Him and what He has already done FOR YOU! Believe and trust in God to guide you in His ways. Believe and trust in God knowing that He did what He had to do to save you from your sins and give you His life. Dear God, thank You for doing what needed to be done, Amen.
Tuesday, September 5, 2017
Romans 13:11-12: Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Finally! School here at Faith Lutheran School started. Hurricane Harvey had something to do with starting at week later than normal. And that's okay. Why? Because we are starting. The hour has come. The children are here. The teachers and the aides are here. Kristie and Carol and Linda are here. IT'S TIME!
And TODAY is the day that begins the rest of your life, too. IT'S TIME to get back to school, back to work, and back to living the Christian life that God gave to us. IT'S TIME to not just complain about the condition of the world. IT'S TIME to do something about it. IT'S TIME to stop worrying about people and their condition before God and IT'S TIME to take up our crosses and follow Jesus into the world to engage the world with Jesus' grace and mercy. IT'S TIME to bring to the world the light of salvation. IT'S TIME to reveal the sin that lives in us, confess it to God, believe that Jesus' death on the cross took away our sin and washed us clean by His broken body and shed blood, and live in the new resurrected life that Jesus gave by His resurrection.
IT'S TIME to live as warriors for Christ. Let's stop living our faith in the background. Let's bring it forward. Let's bring it out of the shadows and let it shine to a world that needs the salvation of God. Dear God, lead us to live more fully in the bright radiance of Your Grace, 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.