Eyes on Jesus:
You have heard the phrase, “Eyes on the prize.” In other words, keep looking forward, keep focused on the goal. Don’t take your eyes off of the one thing that you need to accomplish.
What better “prize” to keep focused on is Jesus. He is author and perfecter of our faith. He is our salvation and life. Jesus gives life to you and I through His death and resurrection. So yes, I will keep my “eyes on the prize.”
During this season of Lent
We will have our “Eyes on Jesus.” The message themes will be seeing Jesus from different perspectives. It starts on Ash Wednesday, February 26, 2020 with, “Misjudging Eyes.” So each service, on both Sunday and Midweek, will focus on a different set of eyes as they “see” Jesus.
So, let me ask you a question.
From what perspective, or set of eyes, do you see Jesus? In what ways do you see Jesus? Do you see Jesus as a historical person who lived and died? Do you see Jesus as a good teacher of morals and values? Or do you see Jesus as a man who was on the wrong side of the power equation?
If you see Jesus from one of those perspectives, then you’re not seeing Jesus fully. You’re only seeing Jesus from a narrow perspective.
Yes Jesus, is a historical person
Who lived and died. AND Jesus is a person who physically rose to life. View Jesus as more than a human being. See Jesus as God and man together. See Jesus in His fullness of human AND divine. See Jesus as the ONE and ONLY person to fulfill the law of God perfectly because He is God. Jesus is also the sacrifice of God in order to save us from our sins. AND JESUS ROSE to bestow to us a brand new life now as well as forever.
It is true that Jesus taught “morals and values.”
The “morals” that Jesus taught are the Ten Commandments. We are to live by them and with them. They are our center and focus. They are standards by which we live. Can we obey them all the time? Absolutely not. It is impossible. That is why Jesus gave to us His “values.” We are valued. We are loved. We are rebuked. We are corrected. AND WE ARE SAVED from ourselves. We are so valued that God did not want to leave us in our sins. We are valued so much that Jesus, God’s Son, came to earth to be our Savior by taking away our sins and making us new people. And by Jesus’ resurrection we have a new life right now, freed from sin, as well as forever.
It is true that Jesus ended up on the wrong side of the power equation.
That’s because the “powers that be” were wrong and Jesus was right. Jesus did end up on the bad side of the Jewish leadership and the Roman leadership. Again, that’s only half the story. Jesus brought clarity to God’s will that the leadership had either forgotten or ignored. And that was God’s intent. God, through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension brought the truth of life to the “powers that be” and to all people.
So, how’s your eyesight now?
Are you seeing Jesus more fully? Good. Come and see, set your eyes on Jesus. Join us for worship on Sundays and Wednesdays.
1st Corinthians 3:8-9:
He who plant and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building.
The Building Goes Up:
If you were watching the images of our new building construction, you witnessed the construction of a building that has four classrooms for three year old and four year old students of our school, a fellowship hall, and a youth room as the major rooms to be used. If you are watching, you are seeing ministry happen at many levels with many people. It is a great joy to see God at work amongst so many.
At the same time, Paul is NOT referring to construction of a building. Paul is referring to the construction of believers. Paul is referring to people being built up and raised up into disciples. The building that is being built is of flesh and bone. It is you and me, who are believers in God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The Construction Workers:
So who are the workers? In the case of the Corinthian church at the time of Paul, the workers were Paul, Apollos, Pricilla and Aquila. They were people who God sent to bring salvation to the Church at different times.
In our time, the workers are those who God saved. The workers are those who see God's plan and who use their gifts, talents and skills, time, and treasure to build the "house of God."
The House of God:
And you are the house of God. You are the one for whom Christ died in order to rebuild the foundation of your life. You, along with all other believers, are being constructed into a living and breathing house of salvation.
The house has been perfected. Jesus did that for you. Jesus has given to you His life. So who is the builder? Who is the one from whom the plans of salvation came? Who is the one who inspired the workers to serve and build?
It is God of course. God designed the "plan of salvation" that is for all people. The plan is simple.
1. You and I are sinners. Sin has ruined God's wonderful creation. We are like a wall that was built on a foundation that is cracked and not level. Our base is off which makes the whole building off.
2. We cannot make ourselves right. We cannot by means of our "good deeds" make ourselves into a building that is not flawed.
3. We need God to "rebuild" us. It takes the Builder to send His Son into our lives to rebuild us into a house that is new. Jesus Christ, God's Son, gave up His body and shed His blood as the one time sacrifice of grace and love. God forgave our sins and cleansed us from all unrighteousness. Jesus destroyed the foundation of sin and rebuilt the foundation. From there God through His workers will build you into a new house that is plumb, square, and true.
Now That You're a Part of the House:
You now are a part of the construction process. It is through your gifts, skills and talents, time, and treasures that God the Builder continues to add on to His house. You are "laborers for Christ." You a part of the grand plan of God's salvation.
Do you want to know more? Do you have a comment or question? Please take the time to make a comment below.
1st Samuel 1:26-28:
Then they [Elkanah and Hannah] slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child [Samuel] to Eli [The High Priest]. And she said, "Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to Yahweh. For this child I prayed, and Yahweh has granted me my petition that I made to Him. Therefore I have lent him to Yahweh. As long as he lives, he is lent to Yahweh."
Hannah had been wanted a child for a long time. One day, while in the courts of the house of God, Hannah prayed that God grant her request for a child. In that request, Hannah pledged the child to God.
And God heard the prayer of Hannah:
Soon after the prayer, Hannah became pregnant. Then Samuel was born.
What Does This Mean?
We know that God answers prayer. We open ourselves up to God's will for our lives when we pray. We, by means of faith, connect to God through prayer. So when God answers, we listen.
Hannah raised Samuel for three years. That is the time a child was weaned from his mother. Then THEY brought Samuel to Eli the Priest.
It was both Elkanah and Hannah who decided to give Samuel to God. Yes, it was Hannah's prayer and pledge. And yes, is was both Elkanah and Hannah's decision based upon Hannah's prayer.
So they gave their son, Samuel, to God for His service.
What Does This Mean?
Simply put, when we hear the will of God for us either through the Word or through prayer, we decide, by means of faith, to follow through. We put our lives and faith into action by both giving and using.
We Give of Ourselves:
God has blessed all of us in so many ways. And He calls to us to give back a portion of those blessings to further His Kingdom. We give from our Time, Talents, and Treasures, those things that God has blessed us with.
And What Did God Give?
God gave it all. He gave His one and only Son to become a human being who died to forgive our sins and rise to give to us a new life. Since God is willing to do that, then we give as well.
We Use the Gifts:
God gave to us Spiritual Gifts as part of our disciple's life. These gifts were given in order to be used; put into practice.
So no more sitting on the sidelines. Just like Hannah, pray that God give to you the insight and knowledge. Take that insight and knowledge and decide that you are going to do something. Then give from your blessings and use the gifts God has laid out for you.
Please, let's dialogue on this meaningful and glorious life.
And He [Jesus] went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. So His fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought Him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and He healed them.
Healing and Jesus:
Can you imagine the scenes of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people trying to get to Jesus. Why? Because He was doing something that no one else was doing. Jesus was healing people of their diseases and afflictions.
As a result of Jesus' miracles of healing, people came from all around. People, who were enemies and foreigners of Israel, came to be healed.
And those that came to Jesus, were healed.
Can you imagine people's lives being changed?
People's lives were being transformed from those who cannot participate in society to those who can. People's lives are being "reborn" to a new life. Their bodies and minds broken by disease and oppression were being made whole.
Think about it this way.
What if you has a disease that caused you to not be able to live the way you used to? What if your were troubled by "spirits" that caused you to cease to live a "normal" life?
And what if you found out about someone who was making people whole again?
Would you seek Him out?
What would keep you from seeking Him out? What is keeping you, right now, from seeking out the One who can heal you of disease and affliction?
Is it skepticism? Is it doubt? Is it a lack of trust and faith? Is it placing your trust in someone else? Is it all of the above and more?
Yes, it is all of the above and more.
For those who came to Jesus, He healed them. Even those who didn't come to Jesus, He healed. My point is, Jesus does heal.
He does heal everyone.
Then why do people continue to die of diseases? Then why do people continue to live lives crippled by body as well as spirit and mind? Borrowing the question, "Why was so and so healed and not me?"
You are healed.
Maybe not physically. Yet you are healed because of the reason why Jesus came in the first place.
Jesus brought healing of death itself.
Jesus brought, and is the source of, the ultimate healing. Jesus came and healed us of sin and death. Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, even though he dies, yet shall he live." (John 11:24)
We all will die. That is the result of sin that ruins God's glorious creation. And God the Father sent Jesus, His Son, to die for us and take away that sin that permeates our lives.
The ultimate healing is faith in Jesus who saved us and promised us resurrection and new life. The ultimate healing is being perfected by God to life with Him forever in heaven. In heaven, there is NO broken bodies and lives. In heaven, there is NO disease and grief. Satan can no longer oppress you.
So believe in Jesus.
For you will be healed. You will be healed of sin, death, hell, and the oppression of Satan. That is the ultimate healing.
I am the LORD [Yahweh], that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.
The Old is Gone:
God, Yahweh is His name, is telling Isaiah to announce to the people of Israel along with the rest of the world, that something new is coming. And that Yahweh, "I am who I am," will let people know about it before it comes to pass.
He did that through the prophets and the apostles. Yet I get ahead of myself.
Hold On to the Past:
When someone says, "the former things have come to pass," meaning they are now complete, what is your natural reaction? You want to hold on to the past. You grieve that which will be gone. You resist the new.
That's normal. That's human. But is it right? Is it in line with God's will? No, it isn't. Our lives are sinful. They are contrary to God's Will. We need a leader, a servant of God, to point out that we're on the wrong and sinful path and to lead us on God's path of grace and life.
The New Has Come:
Jesus gave Himself as the sacrifice for all sin for all time. Jesus, the Servant of God who is the delight of God the Father, laid down His life and forgave our sins. Jesus gave to us His Life as a substitute for our sinful lives. Jesus took our sin onto Him and passed His grace filled life to us.
Does this new life sound appealing to you? Do you want to know more? Do you know you need to "make a change" but you don't know to what?
Come and talk to us at Faith. Come and hear the Grace of God in Jesus. Our service times are posted on the website.
You can also comment to this post and we'll engage in dialogue about the new life in Jesus you can have.
And when His parents [Joseph and Mary] saw Him [Jesus], they were astonished. And His mother said to Him, "Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress." And He said to them, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"
A Parent's Worst Nightmare:
As a a parent, how would you feel if you "lost your child?" I think panic would describe, in part, the emotions that you would feel. Imagine how Joseph and Mary felt when, after a day of walking, they couldn't find Jesus anywhere amongst their travel group. Jesus wasn't with His friend's families. Jesus was not with them. Fear began to set in.
While still within in their minds, Joseph and Mary left the safety of the group and began the day long trip back to Jerusalem. After they arrived, the panic setting in even more, searched for Jesus for three days.
Then they reasoned where Jesus could be. And sure enough, Jesus was in the temple. Now how do you feel? The panic starts to wane. Relief starts to take panic's place. And another emotion then will start. That is, anger.
Mary's chastisement of Jesus incorporated all of those emotions, at least. If there were me, I would want to both love on him in relief and warm his backside for scaring me half to death.
Yet Jesus said something intriguing.
Must be in My Father's house:
Jesus is saying, "This is where I need to be. Why were you worried about me?"
If I said that to my parents after they were searching for me for three days, plus two days traveling, my backside would have been warmed.
Yet when you think about what Jesus said and who Jesus is, then what He said makes perfect sense. Jesus needs to be in the house of God. And that is where He is.
Jesus is always in the His house, whenever two or more gather in His name. That can be congregations, schools, Sanctuaries, classrooms, and houses. Jesus is everywhere people are gathered in His name.
Jesus is always in His Father's temple, meaning, the hearts of every believer in His life, death, resurrection, and ascension.
Jesus is always in His Father's temple of every believer who believes in the salvation from sin, death, and the influence of Satan.
And Jesus is in His Father's temple of every believer who, by the power of the Holy Spirit, lives their lives according to the grace of God the Father.
Are you searching for Jesus?
Are you looking for Jesus? Are you trying to find Him who died and rose for you?
Jesus is in God's Word. Pick it up and start to read it. You will see Jesus in all the pages of God's Word. Jesus is there. He stands at the door of your heart and knocks.
How will you respond? Open the door.
Do you want to know more? Please reply and let's "talk."
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His
shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Did you ever wonder about who is Jesus? There is so much written about Him. First there are all the prophecies. Then there is the history in the Gospels.
And so many titles. "He shall be called 'Emmanuel." "You shall give to Him the name, 'Jesus.'" And there is this prophecy.
So Who IS Jesus?
Before I answer that, allow me to make an observation. Whenever people are confronted with options about issues or people, we automatically go to the "either/or" position. It is "either" this "or" that.
So when we have so many "names" for Jesus, we get a little panicky. "Is it either this name or that name?" Is Jesus called, "Savior" or "Redeemer" or "Wonderful Counselor" or "Everlasting Father."
Do you see where the confusion comes?
So who is Jesus?
In order to answer that, I want to introduce you to another way of looking at choices about Jesus and who He is. It is "BOTH/AND."
So Jesus IS "Savior," "Redeemer," Wonderful Counselor," "Everlasting Father" and so on. Jesus IS ALL OF THE ABOVE.
Does it Make Sense?
When you let go of "either/or" and embrace "both/and" through your faith, then, "Yes." It makes perfect sense when you include the fact that the child who was born and the son who was given is BOTH 100 percent human AND 100 percent God, When you believe that, anything is possible with God.
Embrace the "Both/and"
Embrace the reality. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Believe that He is what is written about Him. When you do, you will have life and have it to the full.
Have a Merry and Joyous Christmas celebration. Join us for BOTH worship tonight AND worship tomorrow. If you're not in Huntsville, find a church in your town and worship the newborn King.
It is Impossible:
A young lady who is a virgin cannot conceive. It is physically impossible in the way that God designed men and women.
Yet at the same time, God tells King Ahaz through the prophet, Isaiah, that a virgin WILL conceive. Let's hear from God through Isaiah 7:10-14.
Again, the Lord (Yahweh) spoke to Ahaz: "Ask a sign of the Lord (Yahweh) your God. Let it be deep as Sheol (hell) or high as heaven." But Ahaz said, "I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord (Yahweh) to the test." And he (Isaiah) said, "Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord (Yahweh) Himself will give you a sign. Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His Immanuel.
Yet It Happened:
In spite of our rational thoughts and ways that try to "understand" or "dismiss" this prophecy, we can't do it. It is a reality.
Yet how did it happen?
Easy. The power of God the Holy Spirit made it happen. From King Ahaz, let us move 700 or so years into the future to a town in Galilee called, Nazareth. There we meet up with Mary. She is promised to Joseph who is a carpenter to be his wife. Let's hear the rest of the story from Luke 1:26-38.
In the sixth month [of Elizabeth's pregnancy], the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greeting O favored one, the Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end." And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy - the Son of God. And behold your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing is impossible with God." And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her."
And that is it:
That is the main reason why Mary, a virgin, conceived. God caused that which is biologically impossible to be possible. It is A MIRACLE!
It is the only way that the story of Jesus' birth works.
And Why do it?
The answer to this question is in the meaning of the name, "Jesus." "Jesus" is not a Hebrew name. It is the Greek translation of a Hebrew name. The Hebrew name is, "Y'shua." In English, "Y'shua" is translated as "Joshua." "Y'shua" means, "The one who saves" or "Savior."
Jesus is the Savior of the world. Jesus is the Son of God AND Son of Man at the same time.
At this time of year, we celebrate the birth of Jesus who came to save us from our sins and the influence of the deceiver, or adversary. Come and join us and receive the forgiveness that God gave through Jesus.
Paul, writing to his apprentice, Timothy, is helping Timothy on his focus of being a pastor. And part of Timothy's training is about thanks and prayer. In 1st Timothy 2:1-2:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
Thanks and Prayer:
Paul starts Timothy by telling him to give thanks for all people. This includes all who may be hostile to the Church and the message of Jesus. For through prayer and conversation, those who are hostile to Jesus may become believers in Jesus. You never know what God will do through our faith, prayer, and witness.
Paul is also instructing Timothy to pray and gives thanks for the leaders of empires, countries, communities, and the like. Paul instructs Timothy to give thanks for and pray for those who may be "hostile" to God and the Church that Timothy is leading.
The World Back Then:
In their time, the world, the people, and the government were hostile to the Church. Believers were being tortured and killed because they believed in Jesus, by whose life, death, resurrection, and ascension they were saved. In some places and some times, believers in Jesus were vilified because others didn't believe and come to know the truth of Jesus.
And why is Paul concerned about those who are hostile to the way of the Church? So that the Church may live in peace and joy.
Our World Today:
So not only is Paul teaching Timothy, as a pastor in training, to pray and give thanks for those who are openly against him, Paul is saying the same thing to us.
So we, as believers who live in an environment of distrust of our message, or conflict with our message, or even open hostility to our message of life with Jesus, pray for those who are against us. We pray for all people so that they will be open to our life of grace with Jesus.
Yes, it is "natural" for us to experience fear, anger, and even hostility to those who are hostile to us. We hate that our message of salvation is being twisted. We hate that people's minds and hearts are so closed off to the simplicity of faith. We want all people, even those who are against us, to come to the knowledge of the truth of Jesus and His life for us.
Pray and Give Thanks:
So we pray for them. We give thanks for those in authority. Because I cannot stay afraid and angry and hostile while I'm praying and thanking. It doesn't happen. And I venture a guess it is the same way with you when you pray and give thanks.
Dear God and Father, I give thanks to You for all the blessings that you give. You gave life to people so that they will come to know You as the source of life and hope. I pray for them that You, even through me, bring Your saving grace from Jesus to them. I pray and gives thanks to those in authority. I pray and give thanks for the President, Vice President and his cabinet and advisors. I pray that they are open to Your directing and leading. I pray for the House of Representatives and the Senate. I pray and give thanks for them and their service to our country. I pray that they work together for peace and quiet life in godliness and dignity. I pray and give thanks for our Governor, Representatives and Senators here in Texas as well as every state in our Union. Bless them and guide them. I pray for our County Commissioners that their work is for the betterment of the people of Walker County. I pray for our Mayor, City Manager, Council members, and all of Huntsvilles employees in leading Huntsville in being a great place to live and express our faith in Jesus. We pray all of this in His, name, Amen
An Unassuming Throne:
Have you ever watched, "The King's Speech?" It is a great movie about Queen Elizabeth II's father. When Bertie, as his family called him, when about to be crowned King of the British empire at Westminster Abbey, he sat in a rather unassuming chair. Yet that was the throne on which he was to be crowned. The man who was to be King, praised and glorified by the people, sat in "a chair."
It didn't look like much. Yet, as Bertie described it, the chair had a ton of history of kings crowned while sitting on it.
So what's the point?
Another Unassuming Throne:
The point is, to be King, you don't need an opulent throne with gold and silver and velvet.
That wasn't Jesus' throne. Jesus' throne was a cross. Here's the story of a great King and His throne.
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at Him, [Jesus] saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you fear God, sin you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." And He said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:39-43)
The Throne of Cursing:
Jesus' only throne on earth was a "throne of cursing." For God's Word says that anyone who dies on a tree is cursed. And Jesus took upon Himself the curse of sin. Jesus took the curse of our sin upon Himself. Jesus died to give us life.
The Throne of Grace:
And God the Father turned it into the Throne of Grace. It is the place where Jesus pronounced forgiveness to the thief. And from it Jesus pronounces forgiveness of our sins as well.
From the Throne of Grace we receive God's love and mercy. We, who should be cursed, not Jesus, destined to eternity with Satan because we sin by our own most grievous fault, received the same pardon that the thief did. We hear the same words of grace and love, "today you will be will me in paradise."
And We Are in Paradise:
We are "in paradise" now because of Jesus' great love for us. We have been given a brand new life freed from sin, death, and the influence of Satan. We are free to life for Him, because of Jesus and His throne. We bend the knee of our will and are subject to His will of grace for us.
And one day, we will be with Jesus as He sits upon the throne of the King of kings and Lord of lords in heaven. We will bow the knee and show Him all the glory that He is due.
So Now What?
Now we live for the King. He sat on His throne of Cursing and Grace here on earth. He sits on His Throne of the King in heaven.
Let us live for the King.
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.