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.
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.
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.