Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Revelation 7:17: [The Angel speaking to John says,] "For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
And yes, that is a picture of baby Jesus in the manger. I chose it to make the point clear that Jesus is in our midst. He is in the world among those who believe. Although Jesus "stands at the door (of your life) and knocks," there are people who still do not believe.
And those who DO believe, Jesus, the babe of Bethlehem, Emmanuel, God with us, the Lamb who was slain and lives, is guiding us to life with Him today as well as forever. Jesus will wipe away all the tears that come as a result of sin, guilt, torment, and suffering. Jesus, because of His suffering, torment, abuse, and death, gives us life. Through all of what Jesus experienced, we have forgiveness, peace, joy, and love of God. But wait, there's more!!
When Jesus rose, and He did rise from the grave, He gave us a brand new life in which to live. Jesus gave us a life that is not trapped in sin, guilt, sorrow, and pain. Jesus gave us a life free to live with Him in this world and eternally with Him. When you believe in God and what Jesus did for you, you have the promise of this life. It's a free gift to you.
For those of you who are reading this today who don't believe, who have doubts, questions, who think, "Why would a god have anything to do with me?" be assured. God does love you so much that He sent Jesus, the Lamb of God, to you to give you life and hope when you believe.
For those of you who are reading this today who do believe, share this blog with some you know who does not. Let them know that Jesus is here for them. Share your journey with Jesus and how Jesus is in your midst. Dear God, thank You for Jesus and placing Him in our lives, Amen!
Thursday, October26, 2017
Martin Luther wrote a hymn titled, "A Mighty Fortress is our God." It is based on the text from Psalm 46. Some of the lyrics go like this.
A mighty fortress is our God,
A trusty shield and weapon;
He helps us free from ev'ry need
That has us now o'ertaken
The old evil foe Now means deadly woe;
Deep guile and great might are his dread arms in fight;
On earth is not his equal.
With might of ours can naught be done,
Soon were our loss effected;
But for us fights the valiant One,
Whom God himself elected.
Ask you who is this? Jesus Christ it is,
Of Sabaoth Lord, And there's no other God
He holds the field forever.
When think Reformation, we think this hymn, Martin Luther, the five "Solas," and most of all, God's grace that forgives our sin by what Jesus did. When we think about this hymn, and specifically these two stanzas, we think battles and a war.
Satan and our own sinful flesh are "at war" with God, our faith, and our life with Christ. The first stanza reveals that. If we tried to "fight the good fight" without God as our refuge, strength, and battlements, we would not put up any kind of find. Our situation is hopeless. That is why stanza two is so important. God fights on our behalf. God gives us the holy armor so, when we engage in battle, we will win.
And how is the victory assured? Is Jesus riding out into the battle field, armed to the teeth in order to take Satan down? Jesus is only armed with the cross. He is naked to the world. He appears vulnerable and weak. Our hero dies. The enemy thinks he has won. He has lost.
The cross, the instrument of cursing, is the weapon that God used to defeat Satan. The holy, innocent, sufferings, death of Jesus destroyed the grip of Satan on people. The Warrior Lord struck a blow against Satan that he cannot stand against. Jesus' death AND resurrection sent Satan to hell forever. Satan has no more influence on us. The victory is assured. Hallelujah!
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Revelation 14:6-7: Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”
I have a couple of friends who have drones. I see their pictures taken from their drones posted on Facebook of either landscapes and pictures of their congregation from the sky. It's pretty cool.
NOW, what if the drones had speakers. And as the pastors are flying them their saying this message. Can you image the surprise of people below? They'll think that God is calling on them or something.
And then there's the message. "Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of judgment has come. and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water." That would put the fear of God into me, for sure.
And we need to be afraid. Judgment is coming to the world. The world's behaviors are "anti-Christ." The world's philosophies are against the ways of God. People of the world, along with the people of the Church of Jesus, need to hear that. We all need to be "quaking in our boots."
We also need to hear the saving grace of Jesus Christ and the hope that He gives for life and salvation. We also need to say that, "God forgives you of your sins. Trust in Him who made the heavens and the earth. Trust Jesus who gave up His life and shed His blood to be the sacrifice for your sins to make you whiter than snow. Trust the Holy Spirit to guide you in the ways of God and not the ways of the world. Then worship God in spirit and in truth with awe and wonder." Dear God, thank You for Jesus who died to take away the sin and give us life, Amen!"
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
John 8:35-36: Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Let dialogue the meaning of freedom. Answers to questions like, "What does freedom look like?" Or, "How do I know what freedom is like?"
Let us explore what freedom really means.
Monday, October 23, 2017
Romans 3:19-20: Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
As a child, we know when we did something wrong. I remember the famous line from my mom, "Wait until your father gets home." My mom was not shy about punishing us for what we did or didn't do. Yet the guilt went up a couple of notches when she said, "What until your father gets home."
The Law of God, both the internal conscience and the written Word, tells us very clearly we sinned. That is the purpose of the Law. It is designed to lead us to know our sin and what it is. It is designed to lead us to contrition, which is a genuine understanding and acceptance of what we did and that it's wrong before God. The Law leads us to realize and accept the condition our sin and sinfulness. The Law is designed to keep us from rationalizing away the sin by calling it a "wrong choice" or a "bad behavior" or a "mistake." The also leads us to realize that when our Father gets home, we are "IN TROUBLE." Sin is sin. There is no excusing it. It's time to buck it up and take the punishment.
From contrition comes repentance, which is the genuine desire to turn away from the sin and turn toward God and salvation through Jesus. Then the really Good News is knowing that we are forgiven of our sins by God through what Jesus did.
We need to realize sin more clearly so that we can realize more clearly the grace that is from God through Jesus. When we realize our sin more clearly, we will see more clearly the grace of God, that Jesus substituted, or sacrificed, Himself for us. So when we know our sin and what is causes, we also know our Savior and what He did. Dear Father, lead us by Your Spirit to confess our sin and receive Your grace, Amen.
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Romans 5:10: For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
The word, "enemy" brings up some really nasty images. Pictures like, planes into towers, nuclear bombs being dropped, slogging through jungles, and baking in deserts. The word, "enemy" brings up other images, such as hate filled protests, random shooting into crowds, and disrespect for people in authority. Those are easy. The next image, not so much.
To see who is an enemy, all you need to do is look in the mirror. Paul is very clear. We were enemies of God. We are good people. We have good families. We hide that we're really despondent. We hide that we are struggling with sins by putting on a "happy face." We are struggling with relationships and yet show the world that all's good. And we, along with all people everywhere in every situation, need Jesus who reconciles, or re-connects, us to the Father by the giving up of His body and the shedding of His blood. God loves us that much. Jesus converts enemies to allies. Because of Jesus we are on God's side. His grace and love makes that happen.
And it is God's love that causes the faith to believe in Him and trust in His saving grace. It is God's love that lifts us from life's "stuff." When we believe, God's power and strength, love and grace, is there to empower us from despondency. When we believe, God's power and strength, love and grace is there for us to resist sin and cling to Jesus and His righteousness. When we believe, God's power and strength, love and grace is there so that forgiveness and love is the foundation of our families. We are saved by Jesus' life. Dear God, remind us always of Your love and reconciling ways, Amen.
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
John 1:12-13: But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, the gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Jesus Christ is the Light of the world. He is a light that no darkness can overcome. Jesus shines a light so bright and glorious, that those who believe live and relish in it. The light of Jesus is not glaring nor harsh. It is a warm glow of life. This is what Jesus brought to the world; to you and I especially who believe.
This is the reality of the Reformation. This is what was re-discovered through Martin Luther's study of Scripture.
The world at that time was scrambling around in the darkness of sin. The Church was struggling with a incomplete knowledge of God and what God did. The Church proclaimed that God was angry, vengeful, arbitrary, and that people were all going to hell if they didn't shape up and do what they were supposed to do. The Church did not know all of who God is and what God came to do. There was a lot of superstitions about God. There were a lot of half truths about God that people thought were totally true. Does that not sound familiar?
The world now is no different then the world back then. People now scramble around in the darkness of sin. The Church still struggles with an incomplete knowledge of God and what He did, and continues to do. People still hear that God is so angry that He is just waiting to zap you to hell if you don't get your life together. There is still superstitions, half truths, and innuendos about God that people think are true.
So here is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God. God is angry at our sin. God punishes those to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Him. At the same time, God shows mercy and compassion and forgiveness to thousands of generations of those who love Him. Jesus, the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day, He rose again from the dead. He ascended in heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty, from where He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
When we believe and put our faith and trust in God because of what Jesus did, Jesus judges us not guilty of sin. When we believe in Jesus, we are re-born and re-made by God Himself. We have a new life. We live in His light. Dear God, lead us more fully to believe in You and live in Your light, Amen.
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Romans 1:16-17: For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel from faith[fullness] to faith, just as it is written, “The righteous by faith will live.”
What is righteousness? Who is righteous? And what does faith have to do with it all?
Righteousness is being aligned with someone or something that is right according to a set standard or law. Righteousness with God, having a good and perfect relationship with Him is based on one of two things. If it is based upon the Law, also known as the 10 Commandments, then righteousness with God is based upon our obeying the 10 Commandments perfectly by thoughts, words, and actions 24/7 every day of our natural lives. Righteousness by means of obedience is impossible for people. We will never measure up. If our righteousness is based upon Jesus, the Son of God, His perfect obedience to the 10 Commandments, His sacrifice of Himself so our sins are forgiven by the breaking of His body and the shedding of His blood, and His resurrection that gave to us a new life, the righteousness with God is based upon the work and life of Jesus and not ours. And we believe in what Jesus did on our behalf...
We are righteous because of Jesus and Jesus only. When we believe that Jesus lived, died, and rose for us, we are righteous.
And what does faith have to do with it? Faith is the glue that binds God to us and us to God. It is God's faithfulness to us that led Him to send Jesus is the first place. The faithfulness of God gave to us the freedom of the Gospel. And our faith binds ourselves to God. Our belief in God's promises connects us to life with Him both now as well as forever.
And we will, and do, live by means of faith. Dear God, lead us by Your Spirit to live by and with faith in You, Amen!
Thursday, October 5, 2017
Psalm 51:10-12: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Can I change myself? I can change, or modify, behaviors. I can adapt to situations and act accordingly. I can even modify my response to situations and people.
I can do all those things. I cannot change myself. I cannot change the core of who I am. I am a sinner before God. I am a person who was conceived into the darkness of sin. I am a person who will not be able to fix the sin which is at the core of my life. I can do a lot of things that are good. I cannot change the core person that is evil in the sight of God.
Yes, I said evil. I am, along with every other human being, conceived as a sinner. My very essence is opposite of God. I was not born in the image of God. I was born in the image of man, more specifically, my parents. See Genesis 5:1-3. Because I, along with every other human being, has no connection to God. The sooner we realize and accept this, the better it will be for us.
From where does the connection to God come? It comes from God Himself. God the Holy Spirit cleanses the hearts and lives of people when they believe in what God did through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. So when you came to faith, God cleansed your heart and life with the Gospel of Jesus. Then we come the realization that we are fully and totally sinful. We experience the guilt of sin.
Then we repent and confess or sins. We cry out, "Help me, God. Make my heart of stone into a heart of flesh, living beating, and growing because of You. Pour Your Holy Spirit in me. Lead me to a more full faith, grace, love, and mercy. Build me so that I have my life centered on You and not me. Leave me to live in Your grace and favor. Re-form me with Your image in me. In Jesus' name, Amen!
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Matthew 9:11-13: And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Jesus doesn't want people who think they're "righteous." Jesus doesn't want who don't think their need a Savior. Jesus doesn't want all the "good people," the ones who have a swag about them, the ones who think that "I have done all that God requires of me."
Who does Jesus want? He wants sinners. Jesus wants people who know themselves inside and out and conclude, "I'm not that good. As a matter of fact, I'm a sinner in my thoughts, by my words, and through my actions." Jesus wants people who know with humility and sorrow that they will never measure up to God's standard. Jesus hangs out with people who know what words like this mean and take to heart.
"O almighty God, merciful Father, I, a pure miserable sinner, confess to You all my sins and iniquities with which I have ever offended You and justly deserved Your punishment, now and forever. But I am heartily sorry for them and sincerely repent of them, and I pray You of Your boundless mercy and for the sake of the holy, innocent, bitter sufferings and death of Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to be gracious and merciful to me, a poor sinful being."
Jesus aligns Himself with people who know their condition before God, confess their sins to Him, and rely on the mercy and grace given to them by what Jesus did. And Jesus forgives them their sins.
Where you are in your life? Come to the realization that you are not "good with God" and stop claiming you are righteous. You're not. Compare your actions in line with the Ten Commandments. Are you following ALL OF them perfectly ALL THE TIME. You're not? You're a sinner. Come to God. Confess your sins. Believe in Jesus and what He did for you and receive the forgiveness and the righteousness of Jesus you need. Dear God, lead us to confess our sins are receive 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.