Thursday, August 22, 2109
Hebrews 12:4-7: In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him. For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives."
Sin and God:
It is difficult, to put it mildly, to resist sin. Allow me to rephrase. It is impossible to resist sin. Jesus said, "If you eye causes you to sin, pluck it out..." Well...
And all of us have heard this in one form or another, "Wait 'til your father gets home." Not to say my mother was not a disciplinarian. She was. But those words put shivers up and down my spine.
Yet discipline from a dad is nothing compared to discipline from God. Can a parent tell you that you are guilt of sin, totally unrighteous, and destined for hell? Only God can, and does, that. God does that to everybody because everybody sins. And God loves everybody.
He will let us know that we "messed up."
God Loves All:
God disciplines all people. Not just the people who don't believe in Him. Not just the people who say they believe in Him and don't. God loves all. God disciplines all. Even those who are believers. For everyone is loved by God. Everyone is disciplined by God. NOT EVERYONE believes that God forgave their sin.
So God's discipline is Jesus' life, death, resurrection, and ascension. Jesus was, and is, the perfect obedience to the will of God the Father. He is the fulfillment of the law because we will not or cannot. Jesus is the forgiveness of sins by means of His gruesome death on the cross. Jesus was despised, beaten, insulted, and hung as a curse on a tree. Jesus took our discipline so that we would be a disciple, a follower of Jesus, who is completely forgiven of all our sins. Jesus is the giver of life, a brand new life both now and forever through His resurrection. Jesus then returned to heaven in order to make sure our houses are ready for our arrival to live in forever with Him.
This is God's Discipline:
So we were disciplined in order to be made disciples. God the Father through God the Son, who is Jesus, gave us the calling to make disciples through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism and by following and doing His Word that we were taught. We were disciplined, and continue to be so, to remind us of what Jesus did for us; to remind us of His great love for us. Whenever we receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion we are not only reminded of God's discipline, we receive the forgiveness in Jesus' body and blood.
So God's discipline frees us to live as His disciples. Believe that and have life with God now and forever.
Wednesday, August 14, 2019
Jeremiah 23:16-22: Thus says the Lord of Hosts: "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophecy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They say continually to those who despise the Word of the Lord, 'It shall be well with you.' and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, 'No disaster shall come upon you.'" For who among them has stood in the council of the Lord to see and to hear His Word, or who has paid attention to His Word and listened? Behold, the storm of the Lord! Wrath has gone forth, a whirling tempest; it will burst upon the head of the wicked. The anger of the Lord will not turn back until He has executed and accomplished the intents of His heart. I the latter days you will understand it clearly. [The Lord now speaks,] "I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds."
The Story's Beginning:
Jeremiah, the voice for God to the nation of Judah before the exile to Babylon, had some stiff competition from "prophets" telling the people, "God will not allow Babylon to take us away from the home HE promised us. Don't listen to Jeremiah and his 'gloom and doom' of exile. There is no sin of which you have to repent. You will be fine."
The nation of Judah wasn't fine. They continued to go their own way. They continued to follow their own path the destruction. Jeremiah, God's voice to the people, tried to convince the people and leaders to repent and turn back to God. When they do, God will protect them.
They didn't listen. They didn't repent. God then executed His justice. They were exiled.
Listened to the Wrong Voices:
The people ignored the Word of the Lord spoken to them by Jeremiah. They didn't want to hear that they had to repent. They didn't want to hear that they were sinning and their sin was leading them on a path to destruction. Then look what happened.
Don't You Listen to the Wrong Voice:
By listening to the wrong voice, you run the risk of "exile." When you listen to the wrong voice, you are still in your sins and sinfulness.
So to whose voice do you listen? You listen to the voice that is saying, "Repent and turn away from yourself, your sins, and the influence of Satan through others. Repent and turn toward God who forgave you of all your sins and created a new and right spirit in you. Turn to Jesus, who by means of His death on the cross, you were forgiven and a new start and a new life was given. Turn to Jesus who rose from the grave to give you a new life to live now as well as forever."
That is the voice to whom you listen. For that is the voice that leads you to God and His life for you. That is the voice that speaks HIS WORD.
Tuesday, August 6, 2019
John 12:3-8: Mary [sister to Martha, brother to Lazarus], therefore to a pound of ointment of pure nard, very precious, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance fo the ointment. Then Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, one of His disciples, who would betray Him, said, "Why wasn't this ointment sold for three hundred denarii, and given to the poor?" Now he said this, not because he card for the poor, but because he was a thief, and having the money box, used to steal what was put into it. But Jesus said, "Leave her alone. She has kept this for the day of my burial. For you always have the poor with you, but you don't always have me."
Preparation for Burial:
Here is Jesus just before the Passover and His ultimate sacrifice for us. Jesus and His disciples are at the house of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. Once again, Martha is preparing the meal. Jesus, Lazarus, and Jesus' disciples were sitting at the table.
And then there is Mary. If you recall from a previous visit, Martha is getting the meal ready and Mary is with Jesus. Martha was offended that her sister was not helping to get the meal set up. Martha wants Jesus to back her up and to send Mary to help. Jesus told both ladies that Mary was in the spot that was most important.
So Mary takes this very expensive perfume, normally used in a small amount in water for the washing of the feet of guests who came to your house for dinner, and pours it over Jesus' feet. Then Mary dries Jesus' feet with her hair.
Nobody but Jesus knows what this means. What does it mean? Jesus says, "She has kept this for the day of my burial."
The Aroma of Life:
The aroma of the nard filled this house with a fragrance that is pleasant. That is much different than the fragrance of death.
And we all stink of death because of our sins and sinfulness. We need the "bathing" of the aroma of life from and through Jesus. Jesus took on our death and stink of sin. Jesus shed His blood that washes us clean from so that our lives are a sweet aroma to God.
How Did He Do That?
Jesus experienced the stink of death in order to remove it from us. Even though we will die, we will live with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit forever. Death no longer has any hold on us. We are clean. We are alive. We have the aroma of life in us.
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Mark 8:23-25: And He [Jesus] took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when He had spit on his eyes and laid His hands on him, He asked him, "Do you see anything?" And he look up and said, "I see people, but they look like trees, walking." Then Jesus laid His hands on his eyes again and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.
A Resistant "Strain:"
I have overheard doctors and I have seen news segments about viruses that people get that are more resistant to antibiotics than others. Medicine companies have then had to design antibiotics that are stronger and that will cure these resistant viruses.
Now did Jesus try to heal a resistant man? It seems likely. The blind man wanted his sight. Yet, he could have been resistant because his life revolved around being blind. He wouldn't know what to do to next. The fear of what would happen next could have easily kept him from receiving the full gift of God.
And what about you?
Is there something in your life that you want changed? Do you feel powerless to change it? Have you asked God to send His "healing touch" to you and bring you healing and it was partially healed? Are you afraid of the what may happen next if you were "healed?" Are you afraid of what your life may be if you let God fully make the change?
The Healing Touch of Jesus:
The blind man saw the possibility from the first "attempt." The blind man saw what his life could be once he had the partial sight. It is very probable the blind man "saw" light and life. So he was no longer resistant to the power Jesus had to heal.
Jesus laid His hands on the blind man again. The blind man experienced the total healing that Jesus gave.
What about you?
Jesus' touch will heal your life starting with your forgiveness of your sins. Jesus has cleansed your life by means of His body and blood. When we touch the bread with our hands and the wine with our mouths, we are receiving the touch of Jesus' body and blood. We are receiving the healing power of Holy Communion for our lives.
Do you want the healing touch of Jesus? Then drop all the fears that are keeping you from fully receiving God's grace through Jesus. Jesus' touch will heal what ever is ailing you. Jesus' touch of grace and love and mercy and peace does transform you.
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
John 5:24: [Jesus is saying,] "Truly, truly I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life. He does does not come into judgement, bu has passed from death to life."
Are You Listening?
I love what Jesus saying here. He is telling us that life with God is extremely simple. All it takes to have life with God, both in this world as well as in eternity, is belief based listening. Believe in God the Father, who sent into your time and space Jesus Christ, His Son and our Savior and Lord. And when we listen to Jesus, we will not be judged, we will be given life.
Do you hear that? Or, for whatever reason, it's going in one ear and out the other? Are you listening to the words that are coming out of Jesus' mouth? So when Jesus talks, are you hearing, "Blah blah blah blah?"
What is prohibiting you from hearing Jesus? Ultimately, it is the sinful nature, the nature into which we were born, that doesn't want to hear. It is afraid to ask the question, "Is Jesus right?" and thereby come to the conclusion that He is.
Listen to Jesus:
Listen to what Jesus is saying. Listen to Jesus as He has words of life. Listen to the words of Jesus, when He tells you that He was betrayed and turned over to sinful men who brutalized Him and killed Him by hanging Him on a cross. Jesus is telling you that after three days He will, AND DID, rise to life. Listen to Jesus as He speaks of life with the Father through Him.
We Will Live:
And when we listen and believe, we will live. We will live as forgiven people, washed clean by the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world. That includes you.
We will live as new creations because of Jesus' resurrection. We will not be lead by the sinful nature and influenced by Satan. That was all washed away. It has no more influence on you. You, because you heard Jesus, will leave the sin behind. There is no judgment. There is only life through Jesus.
And when you pass from this life, you will live the next with the Father, and the Son. That is what will happen when you listen and live.
Do you have any thoughts or questions about what you heard? Please comment.
Tuesday, July 16, 2019
John 2:9-11: When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from, thought the servants who had drawn the water knew, the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now." This, the first of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested His glory. And His disciples believed in Him.
What Do You Think?
If you were the bridegroom, what would you say to the master of the feast? Thank you? After all, you had no idea what was happening. You didn't know that one of your guests had performed a miracle. You had no idea that plain water was turned into wine. And since God the Son made the wine, it was the best of the best.
Connection to Holy Communion:
The bridegroom, and all the guests, received a taste of the wine that was yet to come. When we celebrate Holy Communion, we receive "a foretaste of the feast to come." "Oh taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him." (Psalm 34:8)
So when we receive Holy Communion, we are, as Jesus said, we are receiving His body, as it is contained in the bread, and His blood, as it is contained in the wine. For when we read Jesus speaking,
Now as they were eating [the Passover meal], Jesus took bread and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat. This is my body." And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them saying, "Drink of it all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." (Matthew 26:26-29)
The guest, Jesus, performed another miracle. In Holy Communion, we believe based upon Jesus' own words, that His body is contained in the bread. Let's think about this a minute. Jesus' body, both mortal and immortal, is contained in a lowly human earthly thing called bread. It doesn't makes sense? How can this be? How can the divine, Jesus, be contained in the mundane unleaven bread? Easy. Jesus said so. When we trust Jesus and His words, it is easy to grasp, not understand. Trust Jesus. Take it.
It is the same with the blood of Jesus contained in the wine. The best of the best is in the wine we drink. And Jesus shed His blood to forgive. Jesus is the fulfillment of all the sacrifices, especially the ones that forgave sin. And God said that forgiveness of sins has to happen with the shedding of blood.
Connection to Us:
Jesus' disciples believed in Jesus after they watched, saw, heard, and participated in this miracle. They didn't know it all. They believed based upon their connection and experience with Jesus.
And so do we. We connect to Jesus. We see His action according to the Scriptures. We hear His words according to the Scriptures. We taste Him in the bread and wine, according to the Scriptures. We believe in Him and trust in Him.
And for those of you who do not yet know Jesus, come and experience Jesus. If you're in the Huntsville, Walker County area, stop by. If not, you can experience Jesus through our conversation. Come and say hi.
Monday, July 8, 2019
Luke 10:23-24: Then turning to the disciples, He [Jesus] said privately, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it."
How Blessed Are They:
Jesus is revealing to those around Him the blessing they have. They are seeing with their own eyes the ONE who is the fulfillment of all the prophecies spoken. Kings and prophets believed in the promise of the Messiah. And Jesus' disciples are seeing Him.
Jesus, is the Messiah, the Son of God, and the one who will deliver His people from their sins and sinful lives. Jesus is pointing out how blessed are His disciples that are seeing who they are seeing.
How Blessed are You:
Do you know how blessed are you? Do you realize what a joy it is to see what you see?
"What am I seeing?" you may ask. Well, Jesus of course! You are seeing Jesus, too. He is in the room with you and all others who gather with you in His name. Jesus describes in Matthew 18, "Where two or more gather in my, there I am in the midst of them.
So when you come together in worship, study, and even in casual conversation with people, Jesus is right there with you. That is His promise. How blessed are you when you believe.
Do you See What I See?
Do you see Jesus? Do you see Jesus in your life? You may say, "Well, if I can't see Him, touch Him, or hear Him, then He isn't here."
Is that the limit of your scope? Is your senses the limit that you have placed upon yourself? If that is, then you're blind to Jesus.
Yet when you go beyond your senses and trust the reality of God, then you will truly see and be blessed by God. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding." (Proverbs 3:5) See Jesus as He speaks to you through the Word. See Jesus in the gift of His body and blood in Holy Communion for the forgiveness of your sins.
Let's talk about Jesus and seeing Him in your life.
Monday, July 1, 2019
On this coming Thursday, our nation will celebrate her 243rd birthday. "We hold these truths to be self evident." is one line from the Declaration of Independence.
We hold these truths to be self evident:
God the Father sent God the Son, Jesus Christ, to bring freedom to people from Satan, self, and all of our sins. God the Son sent God the Holy Spirit to power the Church through His Word to bring life and immortality to light.
And we live in a country where we can express our belief and not experience any blow back from the government. We have the freedom to walk and talk about Jesus in an environment of safety.
In our passage from God's Word from the Gospel of Luke, we see Jesus sending out 72, 36 pairs of people, into the communities.
Luke 10:1-3: After this the Lord appointed seventy two others and sent them on ahead of Him, two by two, into every town and place where He Himself was about to go. And He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers in His harvest. Go your way; Behold I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves."
We may have the freedom to walk and talk about Jesus, but it won't be easy. People will not like to hear the truth of Jesus Christ. They may slam doors in our faces. They may ignore us after we shared the message. They may even "fight back" with words that don't belong to God.
Why would they do this? In my humble opinion, they are scared that we could be right and true and that we challenge their lives. They get defensive and they get bitter. And you know what? Not everyone will receive the message with the joy that we do.
Luke 10:4-7: Jesus continues to say, "Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace by to this house!' And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house."
And when you find someone, some household that is receptive to the message of Jesus Christ, stay put. Their home is your home. Their family is your family. It is from where you really walk and talk.
You have a "home away from home" from where you can base your service to people for God. It is Faith Lutheran Church and School. Your peace, God's peace, is found here. Your extended family is here. We eat together, we worship together, and we work together. You can hang your hat with us and you walk and talk the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Luke 10:8-11, 16: Jesus is continuing to say, "Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, 'The Kingdom of God has come near to you.' But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its' streets and say, 'Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, the the Kingdom of God has come near.'" ... "The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects Him who sent me."
As you make your way through this world, you will have many challenges. People will reject you as a person of Christ. They will not hear what you have to say. They will not be kind to you.
From my point of view, I never want to give up on anyone. I don't want to stop trying. At the same time, I have to begin to realize that I may be "banging my head against the wall." I will be, and have been, rejected, my words misunderstood and misinterpreted. No matter what I may do, some people will not listen. I just have to dust off my feet and move on. They are not rejecting me. They are rejecting God the Father.
And the ones who get it? What about the people who receive you and receive the Lord who sent you? Well are receiving with joy the grace and mercy of God through Jesus Christ. They too will be written in the Lamb's Book of Life.
Luke 10:17-20: The seventy two returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name!" And He said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that you names are written in heaven."
It is amazing when the Word of God works. It is amazing when people respond to the message that you shared with them. It is amazing that just the freedom from sin does in the lives of people. It is amazing that grace, mercy, and life overflow to people and they take hold of it.
When you take advantage of the freedom to walk and talk your life as a servant of Jesus, things in people's lives change.
At the same time, Jesus has a warning for you. "Don't get cocky. Focus your joy on the reality that YOU will be headed to heaven."
It is great that God brings people to salvation through us. And that's it. GOD works THROUGH US.
But don't stop celebrating either.
Wednesday, June 26, 2019
Luke 9:57-62: As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, "I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." To another He said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." And Jesus said to him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God." Yet another said, "I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home." Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God."
Jesus Seems Harsh:
Following Jesus seems harsh. There is no cushy bed in which to sleep. Not even an old "No tell motel." Jesus also seems down right mean to tell a person who wants to follow Him that he can't even bury his father. Nor can another say goodbye to the family he loves. Why is Jesus so mean?
I think that Jesus is not being mean, but being brutally honest. Following Jesus takes commitment, dedication, and even a single minded focus. Jesus is basically saying, "Don't let the past hold you back from the future life that you have."
What Keeps You...
From following Jesus? Is it work? Is it play? Is it entertainment? Is it self pleasure? Is it other priorities? What is holding you in the past? What is keeping you from seeing the future?
What is keeping you from following Jesus? Where is you commitment to Him?
When we realize what Jesus has to offer, following Him in all that we do will seem like a no brainer. When we realize the total and complete forgiveness of sins by means of His death on the cross. Think about this. You think it's hard to follow Jesus? Would you take on the curse of dying on a tree in order to give you life? Jesus did. His death was brutal, hard, and mean. Jesus knew what was coming. Jesus knew the harsh reality that His life was going to face. And He took it.
Then, in order to bring new life to us, Jesus was raised from the grave. We are free from the pull of the past in order to embrace the future with Jesus. And that future is freedom from sin and eternal life with God.
Commitment to Follow:
Now with that freedom "In hand," we see our lives from a Jesus point of view. We see our homes, work, family, play, and pleasure as secondary to following and living with Jesus. Following Jesus takes some harsh reality questions to ask.
Does that mean we quit them?
If what we do gets in the way of spending time with Jesus and what we already know what He wants us to do, then... If how we focus our lives on ourselves and our wants and not on what Jesus has already told us to "Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, strength, and love your neighbor as yourself" then...
This is worthy of more discussion. Please weigh in with your comments.
Tuesday June 18, 2019
Luke 8:30-32...38-39: Jesus then asked him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Legion." for many demons had entered him. And they begged Him [Jesus] not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged Him to let them enter these. So He gave them permission. ... The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with Him [Jesus] but Jesus sent him away saying, "Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for You." And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.
What Jesus Did:
Picture the scene for a moment. Jesus dares to travel to a "non-Jewish" region on the east side of the Sea of Galilee. There, Jesus and the disciples meet up with a man, demon possessed, chained up and going berserk.
Some how, and the man and Jesus had not previously met, knew Jesus and the power that He possesses. "Legion," pleaded with Jesus for mercy. And Jesus was merciful to the demons AND the man possessed. And a lot of bacon went over the cliff. :-)
What Jesus Does for You:
Have you ever struggled with life? Have you been plagued by doubts, insecurities, as well as personal "demons?" Have bad things happened to you? If you answered no to one of the questions, you're either very young and don't realize what's going on or you're not recognizing reality.
We all struggle with something. AND God never left us without relief, hope, and salvation. And the source of our relief, hope, and salvation is JESUS! Jesus went through struggles, especially those at the end of His life, that we will not face. Jesus endure them in order to spare us and save us. Jesus is our hope. Hope, that is built through sufferings, perseverance, and character building will never disappoint us because it is built on Jesus. And Jesus is our salvation. He removes those demons and casts them away. He removes our sins as far as the east is from the west. HIS yoke is easy and HIS burden is light.
The "Legion" possessed man wanted to leave the area and follow Jesus. Jesus gave him a different path. The man was to stay in his home town and tell the people there what Jesus did to him and for him. This was, for the man, his "bloom where you are planted." This was his call to "make disciples" where he was.
It's the Same for Us:
We are also placed in our community, congregation, school, and county in order to tell the world around us "what Jesus has done for us." We are in the opportunity of a lifetime that will walk the Disciple life where He wants us. We are in our community to live for Jesus, with Jesus, and powered by the Holy Spirit through the Word. We are equipped with faith and life, encouraged with the hope that does not disappoint to engage people with the love of God in Jesus.
What do you think? Ready to go and serve?
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.