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.
Wednesday, November 13, 2019
Are You Tired of it All?
Are you tired of all the bickering, divisiveness, and arguing that is going on? Are you asking the question, "Why can't we all just get along?" I am.
I am tired of it all. This person hates that person. And with Social Media fueling the fire and TV news networks going on and on about events and opinions of events and people, it is getting ridiculous.
Then there is the question above all questions, especially in the minds of many Christians.
Is this the end?
Before we even try to answer that question, let's hear from Jesus on the subject of the end from Luke 21.
Then He [Jesus] said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they [the leaders of the nation of Israel and the world] will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up the the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness." (verses 10-13)
Jesus spoke these words to His disciples nearly 2000 years ago. And guess what? Nothing has changed.
The World is in Turmoil:
We see by means of many outlets the worst of the worst. We see disasters happening that kill hundreds if not thousands. We see decisions made by people that affect thousands of lives, some for the good, some for the bad. We are seeing, and hearing, angry people feeling that they are not being treated fairly. They are looking for equality on BOTH sides of the issues. And the interesting thing about what we see is, we see it instantaneously.
That leads us back to one of the original questions today. Why can't we just get along? I can tell you why in one word.
Sin manifests itself in many ways. Mostly, I see it manifesting in the age old issue. "I want what I want and I don't care about any one or any thing else." The human race, because we are conceived into sin does not know how to live out "Love you neighbor as yourself."
This is why the world NEEDS Jesus. They need Jesus and His perfect life in obedience to the will of God the Father. Jesus, God the Son, was the obedience that we cannot do. Jesus, both God and man at the same time in the same person, walked right to a cross to be cursed by the Father because of Jesus carried OUR SINS to that cross. Jesus' sacrifice of His body broken and blood shed washed us all our sins away. Then, because Jesus rose from death, we have the promise of a new life free from sin and self.
We are now free to bear witness, or to testify, to the reality of Jesus and what He did for all of us.
We have the opportunity to bring the reality of Jesus to the world. Will it be easy? No. Will it be worth it? Absolutely. WE, the Church, cannot stand on the sidelines and watch the world fall apart. God is giving to us means and opportunity to live and share His life for all people.
Do you have a question or two? Please respond and let's get a dialogue going.
Wednesday, October 23, 2019
It's the Time of Year:
Fall colors are either in full bloom or, in my case, just starting. The weather is finally cooling off enough to have to think about wearing a jacket.
At the same time it is the season for reformation. It is the season for new life and a new start.
And for Martin Luther, on All Hallow's Eve, October 31, 1517, he posted his "95 Theses" to the church door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. Luther wanted to debate, or discuss, 95 points of view that he saw as problems in the Roman Catholic Church that needed reforming. What he didn't expect was a firestorm that was God's doing to bring His Church back to the core. And that is,
Faith alone, and no activity or work we can ever do, will get us a relationship with God. Grace alone, and not my "works" that I do, opens the door to faith. For it is the grace of God through Jesus Christ that I am saved. And it is Scripture Alone that teaches, shares, shows, and convicts my heart and life to the will of God. The Holy Spirit works through His Word, and His Word alone, to bring people to the salvation given by Jesus.
And Martin Luther discovered this revelation when he was preparing for his lectures at the University of Wittenberg on the letter to the Roman church. Here is an excerpt from the letter from Romans 3:19-22a:
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For no one is declared righteous before Him by the works of the law, for through the las comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the law, the righteousness of God, which is attested by the law and the prophets, has been disclosed, namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe.
This was a trigger for Martin Luther to dive more into Scripture and find that our relationship with God is NOT based upon our works. It is based upon God through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. Our life with God is a gift from Him.
We know, through the Word, Scripture alone, the work of God for us. Time after time God rescued His people from themselves. Yes, He had to discipline the children in order to get them to see God's rescue. And when they finally saw it, they repented of their sins, for Faith alone leads people to see that. Then God, through Grace alone, forgives and cleanses us from all unrighteousness through the body and blood of Jesus.
This is the core of Christianity that Luther rediscovered. This is the core of Christianity in which we live.
As Luther wanted, let us debate this, shall we?
Wednesday, October 16, 2019
Stir Up Some Conversation:
I hope that my post today will stir some conversation regarding the topic and how we use said topic.
For us Lutheran Christians, the topic of the Lord's Supper is the most intimate gift that God gave to us. For we believe that Jesus' body and blood are truly present in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. We believe that Jesus' body and blood mysteriously and miraculously occupy the same space and time as the bread and wine. We believe that we receive Jesus' body and blood in order to receive forgiveness of our sins.
Why Do We Believe This?
Because He said so.
Please listen to St. Paul recount what Jesus said from 1st Corinthians 11:24-26.
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when He was betrayed took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also He took the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup in the new covenant in my blood. Do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes. (the emphasis is mine)
"The cup" refers to the cup of wine used in Jesus' Last Supper with His Apostles. It was wine used in the original Passover meal that celebrated the remembrance of God's deliverance of the nation of Israel from their slavery at the hands of the Egyptians.
So the Lord's Supper is connected to the deliverance of people. Specifically, it is Jesus' body and blood that delivers us from sin, death, hell, and the influence of Satan.
The Bottom Line:
Jesus says that the bread and wine and His body and blood are together. When we receive it we proclaim Jesus' death until He returns. And what did Jesus' death do? It forgave our sins. It is as simple as that.
Do you have any thoughts? Comment? Let's get a conversation started.
Wednesday, October 9, 2019
Have you ever known something that you did was wrong?
Did you rationalize it? Did you blame someone else? Did you ever try to cover it up?
YES, YES, AND YES.
This is what King David did.
He had an adulterous relationship with the wife of one of his trusted soldiers. Then David found out the woman, Bathsheba, was pregnant. In order to try and hide his relationship, David brought Uriah back from the war for a "three day pass." David was hoping that Uriah would be with his wife, his wife would tell Uriah that she was pregnant and David's relationship with Bathsheba would be a "non issue."
The plan didn't work. Uriah didn't spend the time with Bathsheba. So David had to devise another lie in order to hide his sin.
He ordered the soldiers to step away from Uriah in the heat of battle so that Uriah would be killed. And Uriah was. David thought he was in the clear. He took Bathsheba to be his wife.
So Was David in the Clear?
No he wasn't. David's pastor, Nathan, confronted David with the sins of lust, coveting, adultery, and murder. David could hide his sin from men. He could never hide his sin from God.
So David Wrote Psalm 51
Today's passage is a portion of Psalm 51. It is David's plea to forgive him.
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.
David was forgiven. David's heart was cleaned through his confession of sin and the mercy of God. His life was restored with salvation and joy. David's life remained in the presence of God.
Confession and Absolution:
There is no sense to try and hide sin from God. It can't happen. It will be found out. Your best course of action is to confess your sin to God. God will take away your sin. He did it already through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. HE removed your sin from you and through it on the cross. And there it stay. Sin confessed is sin forgiven.
Does That Mean We're Free and Clear?
Yes. Your sin is gone. Your life was change. You have a new spirit in your life. God is always with you.
And no. Sin always carries consequences. What happened to David and Bathsheba? Even though David was forgiven, there was a consequence to his sin. The son, who was conceived in the adulterous relationship, died.
You may struggle with consequences with your sin. Yet that struggle is tempered by the new life you were giving by God.
Did you know that God suffered consequences of forgiving you of your sins? Jesus died so that your sins are forgiven. That is the result of forgiveness. AND Jesus rose so that we who died to sin will rise to new life as well.
Monday, September 30, 2019
Romans 5:18-19: Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.
The Depth of Sin:
Most people don't get it. I sometimes wonder if most Christians get it.
What don't we get?
How the sin and disobedience of Adam led to mankind's sin and disobedience.
Think about it this way. Adam had one command only. "Don't eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you do, you will surely die." With a little help from Satan, Adam disobeyed God. Then he died, just as God promised.
Death came as a result of sin.
And before Adam died, the human race inherited his inclination to sin. It is in our "DNA." We are sinners through and through. As far as God the Father is concerned, there is nothing in us to see that's good. There is no faith. There is no grace. There is only the human sin.
And human sin is deadly, both temporarily and eternally. You can be a really nice person. You can be "kind to animals." You can be a social activist. You can be a member of NRA. It doesn't matter. The condition of human beings is still the same. As St. Paul states above, "Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men..." and "For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners..."
The Depth of Grace:
"So the one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men." Jesus, the ONE man AND God, the ONLY sinless human being, the ONLY one sinless before God the Father because Jesus is GOD the Son, sacrificed His life for the sake of every human being. Because of Jesus and His act of Grace, we have justification.
What does justification mean?
We are declared "NOT GUILTY" of all sin by God the Father because of Jesus. Jesus took our sin upon Himself to the cross and became the sacrifice that removes them from us. So we are released from the judgment of death. Jesus said, "He who believes in me, even though he dies, yet will he live."
"By the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous." We are right with God the Father. We have a new relationship with Him. God the Father sees us as He did Adam and Eve before the fall. We are connected. We are His.
When We Believe This...
It is all ours. Jesus is God the Father's gift to us. He is life. He is grace He is mercy. He is love. Jesus is THE GIFT of justification and righteousness. Receive the gift. Take the gift. It is all yours.
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
John 1:9-14: The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He 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. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
As We Look at God...
We see and hear John describing God using two fundamental words. They are light and Word.
Light has a wonderful characteristic. It keeps us from being in the dark. I know, that sounds overly simplistic. That doesn't make it any less true. Light dispels and displaces darkness. Light brings feelings of warmth and peace.
Then why in God's green earth, do we shy away from THE LIGHT? I think the main reason is, light exposes darkness. Light brings that was hidden out of hiding. Think of lights around an office, factory, or any other building. Lights around the perimeter keeps people who are trying to hide sinful deeds away.
We do not like being in the light because our sins are dark and harmful. Look at Adam and Eve. They tried to hide from God because they KNEW they had sinned.
Light brings peace and forgiveness. The exposure of sin that light brings at first brings shock and guilt. It then brings relief and mercy. For it is the LIGHT of GOD who brings mercy and peace and forgiveness through His death executed in the darkness.
And when we believe in Jesus, the Light of the World, we are Jesus' brothers and sisters and the children of God the Father.
Words carry meaning. Words can hurt. Words can lift up. Words teach. Words lead to action. Words have impact.
And THE WORD, who is Jesus Christ, speaks volumes. This WORD, who was involved in creation, forgiveness, justification, and being set apart, became a person similar to you and me.
He was, and is, fully human. Jesus became a person, just like the people He came to save. AND the greatest difference between Jesus and us is, Jesus is also GOD!.
THE WORD takes away sin. The WORD is sacrificed for sin, both yours and mine. THE WORD gave up His body and shed His blood. AND THE WORD rose to life to bring life to you and me both now and forever.
And the Light and the Word:
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
18 Years Ago:
I remember exactly where I was and what was happening on that day.
I was in the middle of a prayer meeting with and for law enforcement people when someone came in and said a plane had hit one of the World Trade Center towers. At that moment, I thought that it may have been a Cessna or another small plane.
It wasn't until I was going to another pastors meeting that I realized what was happening. Our meeting was dominated by watching the news coverage that day. We were all dumbfounded.
God's Word through St. Paul's to the Thessalonians gives to us our lives and how we are to live today.
1st Thessalonians 4:1-2: Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
Our lives today, as well as everyday, are based upon God's Words for us. Words like,
You shall have no other god but me. That does not include idols or anything or anyone more special than me.
You shall not use God's name in a manner that is not respectful.
You shall honor your mother and your father.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness, or testimony, against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor's house.
You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or husband, man servant, maid servant, ox, donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
God's word is ways by which we please Him. God's word opens our lives to His direction, strength, focus, and life. God's word was made flesh and He made His dwelling among us.
God's Word, Jesus Christ, is the perfect fulfillment of God's word. He knows we can't and won't. We know we can't and won't. It is time to be honest with ourselves about that reality. So by believing and knowing that, we can realize God's grace in Jesus more fully. Jesus is also the sacrifice that "keeps on giving." Jesus is the one time sacrifice so that we are forgiven of all of our sins. Jesus' forgiveness frees us from sin, death, the influence of Satan, and eternal separation from God the Father. Jesus' resurrection gives to us the promise of a brand new life to live right now as well as a brand new life to live with Him forever.
We experience God's words with appreciation for what Jesus did along with what God the Father calls us to do.
We follow His words not because we HAVE TO, but because we WANT TO.
We live each day honoring those served with love, cared with heart, and gave the full measure of devotion to save other lives.
Tuesday, August 27, 2019
Hebrews 13:5-6: Keep you life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." So we can confidently say, "The Lord is my helper. I will not fear. What can man do to me?"
"I've Got Your Back:"
How many times have we heard this statement? How many friends, family, and others said this to us? And when it came down to having your back, how many of those who claimed to support you, failed?
Where were they when you needed them?
Many times, people who say they are supporting you, don't. I'm sure, as you are reading this, you are thinking of times when this happened. For me, when the support I thought I had didn't happen, I felt sadness, grief, and a little abandonment.
And what is worse, I think we transfer those feelings to God. "God, why have you forgotten about me? Why weren't you there when I needed you?"
God Will Be There:
God is not like people. People are not like God. People will fail. God will not. People are fallible. God is not. God will ALWAYS have your back. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He is with you while you are in the deepest depths of despair. He is with you in your highest of highs. God IS RIGHT HERE NEXT TO YOU.
When You Rely on God...
You can face the seemingly impossible trials of daily life. God is with you.
You can share and celebrate the joys of life. God is with you.
You can stop living your life in fear and hurt. God is with you.
God is with you in all aspects of life. God has promised to you. God has taken on your sorrows, griefs, and sadnesses and nailed them to the cross of forgiveness and grace. Jesus replaced your sins, hurts, and troubles with His love and mercy, and grace.
So go forth with Him. God's got your back.
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.