Monday, December 17, 2018
John 1:6-9: There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light but came to bear witness about he light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
We have exactly one week until Christmas Eve. We have one week for final preparations. Are ready? Are all the presents bought? Is the dinner ready to go? Are you ready to travel, if you're heading any where? These are just a few of the last minute details we all do just before Christmas.
Yet the most important one to be prepared for is, "Are you ready for the Light?"
That was John the Baptist's role and responsibility. John was to prepare the way for the Light of the World. John was the final prophet. John was the last one that God sent to prepare the people for the arrival of His Son. The Light was about to arrive. The long expected Messiah, the anointed one, was about to break into the world.
The Light of the World:
The Light of the World, the one that no darkness could, or would, overcome, was about to show the way. The darkness of night could not stop the arrival. The angels arrived in bright array and showed the shepherds the way to the Light of the World.
The bright and unusual star appear the night of the LIght's birth and caught the attention of Wise Men in the East. It took them about two years before they met the Light of the World.
Yet the most devastating darkness that permeates the human race is the darkness of sin. It is a darkness of the soul. It is a darkness that leads people blindly into the clutches of human self-worship and away from God. Yet even THAT darkness could not stop the arrival of the Light. The Light of the World is HERE. He is dispelling and displacing that darkness of sin and soul, penetrating to the very heart of the matter.
Jesus, the Light of the World, came to lift you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Come and Worship:
Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn King. We all struggle against the darkness or ourselves. The sad state of affairs is that we cannot break out of the darkness. The light must penetrate the darkness. And it DOES. So when you see the Light of the World coming into your life, do not resist. Allow Jesus to take you out of the darkness and bring you to Himself.
Then celebrate. Let's start now. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. And when Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday come, join us to worship. See our website, Facebook, and Twitter for times.
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Philippians 4:4-7: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
The Lord in at Hand:
Did you realize that God, our Lord and Savior, is here with us, right now? God the Father is always with us. The evidence of His creating work is around us. The birth of people and animals, the exquisite design of all created things tells us that we could not have "evolved." Things of the world are too simple and too complex to "just happen." God the Son, Jesus the Christ, is always around us. Jesus Himself tells us, "Where two or more are gathered in my name, I am there with them." Jesus and His saving grace, saving us from sin, death, and the influence of Satan, is here in our lives. And God the Holy Spirit is with us in all the words written down in the Holy Bible. He continues to talk to us through the Word, reminding us of the Word of God who was made flesh who dwelt among us. God the Holy Spirit continues to lead us in the direction that He wants us to go.
Why Don't We See Him?
It's because, for the most part, we are not looking for Him. For example, all the hub bub of the season, the meals, the presents, decorations, and the "programs" just to name a few, keep us from seeing Jesus and His salvation. Craziness and motion keep us from the realness of Jesus.
Why don't we slow down a little bit? Let's take some time to reflect and renew. Let's take a moment to look at all that God has made. Let's take a moment to breathe and look at Jesus and all that He did. Let us look at Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Let us look to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Let us take a step back and be reminded by the Holy Spirit through His Word about the shepherds who left the defenseless flocks and went to go see Jesus. Let us ponder the Wise Men, who left their work and take at least two years to follow the Christ Star to Bethlehem and Jesus.
As the reality of the life of God, the grace and mercy that He continues to pour out upon you and your family. Be filled with the joy that only God gives to you. Allow God to calm your minds and relieve your stress, anxiety, and challenges. Rejoice and be at peace.
THE LORD IS AT HAND!
Monday, December 10, 2018
Luke 7:20, 22-23: And when the men had come to Him [Jesus], they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, 'Are you the who is to come or shall we look for another?'" And He [Jesus] answered them, "God and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to the. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me."
Who's Coming to Dinner?
Would you have a dinner party for someone who you do not know? Would you set up the table, cook the roast, the potatoes, the carrots, and the dessert for an unknown guest? You don't know what he wants to eat. Would you do that
Would you ask about the guest? Would you ask, "Who is the dinner guest? What does he like? What's he like?"
That is why John sent some of his disciples to Jesus. John wanted to know if Jesus was the anticipated one. John had baptized Jesus. John heard the voice of the Father God. Yet for those around Him, John wanted to hear from the voice of Jesus Himself for the sake of his followers.
Show and Tell:
Jesus answers John's disciples by saying, "You will know by what I am doing. People are being saved from all the different types of illnesses. People are being healed. AND people are being brought back to life. Watch what I am doing and compare that to what is written in Scriptures about the one whom you expect. Let the evidence speak for itself."
And Jesus' answer is the same for us. Jesus, because of what He did. Jesus showed us Himself in what He did that will fill the sin sized hole in your life and make you whole. Jesus is showing you, "I have cured your spiritual blindness and gave you faith that allows you to see. I have healed your legs so that you will walk with me and walk for me. I have cleansed your soul from the stain of sin and washed you from all the decay of "yuch." I have open your ears to hear the Gospel of salvation and grace so that you will hear me more clearly. I even raised you up so that you have a new life to live for me and with me. How did I do this? I was born and laid in a manger. I experienced your life and walked with you and lived the life that God our Father wanted for you. I walked to the cross to forgive you of the sins that separated you from our Father. I was raised to life so that you will have a new life to walk with me right into heaven through faith. And one day, you will be with me and our Father forever."
This is what Jesus did. Know and believe in what you see and hear from me.
Monday, December 3, 2018
Luke 2:11-12: [The Angel to the shepherds is saying, "For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sing for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."
"From Heaven Above to Earth Below:" Stanzas 2 and 3
"To you this night is born a child
Of Mary, chosen virgin mild.
This little child of lowly birth
Shall be ti joy of all the earth.
This is the Christ, our God Most High
Who hears your sad and bitter cry;
He will Himself your Savior be
From all your sins to set you free."
Martin Luther, the one who got the Reformation started, quoted the above Bible passage in the hymn he wrote. In the hymn, Martin Luther not only recounted the story of Jesus' birth. He commented on the meaning of Jesus' incarnation. He share with you and me also the importance and necessity of Jesus coming to earth from heaven.
The above stanzas are a retelling of the words of the angel who spoke them to the shepherds.
Simply put, the world needs to hear these words of announcement. People have to hear these words because they are the foundational announcement of this time of year. The world needs to hear that its' Savior, Lord, and King is born and is here!
Now's the Time:
So now is the time to let the world know about who they are missing. It is time, Church, to act like angels and tell the message of Jesus. Jesus was conceived of the Virgin Mary. He was born in Bethlehem. Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the "Anointed One." Jesus lived the perfect life because He is the Son of God. Jesus lived to die on a cross and to give up His body and shed His blood. Jesus rose to life to give to us the promise of a new life now as well as forever.
This is the message. It is our time to tell it, Church.
Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Galatians 1:10-11: For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me in not man's gospel.
One thing that you can say about Paul, the servant of God, is that he doesn't mince words. Paul is "all in for God." It's either one or the other. There is no blending. There is no "both/and" when it comes to whose approval you want.
Are you for Yourself?
Do you do things that will please yourself or others? Of course you do. You wouldn't be human if you didn't.
Do you want to please other people? Do you want to "get along" with others? Again, of course you do. You wouldn't be human if you didn't.
And, if that were the case, you wouldn't be pleasing God. You wouldn't be focused on God's will for your life. You wouldn't have a desire to glorify God with your life.
Are you for God?
Do you do things that you know honor God? Do you follow His ways above the ways of people? Do you serve God with your life? When you are, you are not living your life satisfying the ways of people.
You Can't Be Both:
As Christians, we realize that we there are two distinct "persons" inside us. The one "person" focuses on being human. That means being focused on things that "make me happy." We are a self gratifying race.
The other "person" is about living our lives in accordance with the grace of God and honoring Him in all that we do. Whatever we do, we do in service to God so that people see Him in our lives. And it is the second "person" who realizes that we can't be both.
Which Way Do We Go?
Every Christian is in this situation. And what helps us in this situation is the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. For it is in the Word of God that we realize that we are sinners, as early as conception. Our lives are focused on "evil all the time." The Word of God also tells us that we are saved from ourselves by means of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. We are promised an eternal life with Him through His ascension. The Holy Spirit through His Word who teaches us, shares with us, and convicts us of sin and then leads us to the Cross of Jesus Christ.
So follow the lead of the Spirit to follow the ways of God more fully. When you follow your humans ways, realize it, confess it, and repent of it. Then trust God more fully and live in His grace.
And when people see you living an "alternative life" of Grace and mercy from Christ, they will want to know why. Then you can share your life with God. You can say, "I follow Christ."
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Luke 2:10: And the angel said to them [the shepherds], "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people."
What is fear?
That is a great question. Fear is something that we experience. It is somewhat hard to define. I have used many times the phrase, "Quaking in your boots" to describe what fear is.
Fear has to do with loss. We're afraid because we lost our favorite pen. That may sound silly, yet it is true. There is a level of anxiety when we had it one moment and not the next.
If that's "silly," what about the fear we experience when we can't find our phone. I know someone who was very afraid she lost her phone. Why? Because she lost all the pictures on it. Her experiences were on that phone. She was afraid that she lost a part of her life.
Fear comes in many forms. That is why the words from the angel are so wonderful.
Stop Being Afraid:
What is the angel saying to the shepherds? "Stop being afraid at the sight of my presence and all you think what might happen. Settle your fear and focus so that you will hear what I have to tell you."
The angel is trying to help the shepherds focus upon what was going to happen next. He had to get them past their fear. And when they were past their fear, the shepherds heard the message of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem.
The angel's message is the same for us. "Stop being afraid of losing something in life. Stop being afraid of what you don't have. Stop being afraid so that I can help you focus on what you have in your life. Stop worrying about what you don't have. I want to tell you what you DO have."
The Message of Jesus:
And what we do have is Jesus and His life for us. We have Jesus and His life for us. We have Jesus' calming heart and grace with the faith and knowledge that He has taken away our sins, our fears, our worries, and replaced them with comfort, peace, joy, and grace.
And when we have Jesus, we have clarity and focus that will set aside fear and move past it. When we have Jesus, we can see the life that we have and set our minds and hearts to move forward past the loss.
Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Deuteronomy 8:7-9: [Moses is saying to the Israelites,] "For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing."
The Promise of Providence:
Think about this for a moment. Here in our passage is Moses is telling the people of God, who God cared for for forty years as they meandered through the dessert, that they were about to cross over the Jordan River into the land God promised them.
Look at what is waiting for them. Everything that they would ever need is in this land. Food, water, and oil are available. No one will go hungry. You will have all that you need. It is there for them to receive after they cross the river.
God was providing for everyone all that they needed.
Where is Everything?:
"So, if God provides all that we have for everyone, why is there hunger? Why is there famine and drought? Why is there fire and destruction? Why do people go without while many stuff themselves silly? Where is God's providence?"
The answer to those questions, along with a whole lot more, will not come by blaming God for everything. God placed man to manage all of the resources of His bountiful creation. And man is selfish. Man keeps for himself. Sharing is not in mans' vocabulary. Do not blame God for the "lack of resources." Put the responsibility upon inequality of the distribution where it belongs. It belongs on us. Mankind, because mankind is sinful, will not share.
Everything is Here: Share It:
We have everything that we need. Look around us. Acre upon acre of crops are growing, animals are being raised for food, technology is available to provide for the needs of the world ten times over if we thought about it.
Think about it. So let us confess our sins of greed and self centeredness and focus on God and what He gave. God the Father, sent God the Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to save it from itself and the influence of Satan. Believe in Jesus and His sacrifice of Himself to save you. Jesus gave up everything in order to save people focused on themselves. And when you believe, God who is faithful and just, will forgive you of your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.
NOW... Look at all the bounty God gave to you. He gave to you house, home, land, and animals. He gave to you a job, a career, a family. Look at what He made available to you in order to share it. There is so much. Share it. God gave it all to you to use for others. So let me know how you used what God gave you to assist others.
Monday, November 19, 2018
Daniel 7:13-14: [Daniel is saying,] "I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and He came to the Ancient of Day and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, and all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him; His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away. And His kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
The End is Coming:
"Nothing lasts forever." It's a phrase that has been used over the decades to describe how finite things are. Yet we do not use the phrase to describe the end of days. I have no idea why people think that this universe is ongoing.
It isn't. Maybe it's because of the perception that the universe is billions of years old and that it will last for at least another billion. Both are false assumptions. Everything that we know and have has a finite end.
Why? It's because of sin. Sin entered the world as a result of Adam and Eve's disobedience to the will of God. God made it perfect. Man messed that up. Creation now has a "shelf life." And so do we. Sin brings death. Sin is the reason that we do not live forever, the way we are.
There is an eternity of life. Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Man, came and gave up His life in order to forgive the sins of people. Jesus, on the third day after His crucifixion, rose out of the grave to promise life today to live in His kingdom in this world AND His kingdom forever.
For those who do not believe in what Jesus did, it is an eternal death. We also call it hell. For those who do believe in what Jesus did, it is an eternal life. We all call it heaven.
People are at an intersection of life. When you do not believe in the work and life of Jesus, Christ the King, the one who sits at the right hand side of the Ancient of Days, your eternal life will be eternal hell. When you do believe int the work and life of Jesus, Christ the King, the one who sits at the right hand side of the Ancient of Days, you will live in an eternal kingdom of love and life and grace and be with Jesus forever.
Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, and you will be saved and have eternal life.
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Mark 13:3-8: And as He [Jesus] sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked Him privately, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?" And Jesus began to say to them, "See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, 'I am he!' and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains."
The Question to end all Questions:
When will the end come? Every person thinks about this at one time or another. It makes no difference whether it's the end of the world or the end of the life. And Christians, more than any other group, focus on the end because that is when Jesus will return. Then eternity will begin. Some to eternal separation from God. Some to eternal life with God.
So the question is a valid question. The fact that Peter, Andrew, James, and John were asking Jesus about it, means something. And to summarize Jesus' answer, we can say, "Wait for it."
Wait For It:
Jesus' answer didn't leave us blind. And it wasn't very specific either. At the same, in Jesus' answer, we find clues and warnings.
One clue is, there will be natural disasters before the end happens. Mark records Jesus talking about earthquakes and famines. You could include fires, like in California. Destructive as they are to land, home, and people, it's not the end, yet.
A second clue is, wars, rumors of wars, nations and kingdoms at war with each other. One could conclude that nations warring against themselves could be a sign. Does that not sound familiar? People is power and authority wanting someone else's power and authority. Painful to experience and watch are these wars, it's not the end, yet.
The third clue, and for Christians this is the most devastating, false Christs popping up and leading people away from the true Christ. People are being led away from Jesus by false prophets all the time. And saddening and scary that is for Christians, it's not the end, yet.
What Do We Do?
We stay strong in the Lord. We stay grounded firmly on Jesus, the rock of our Salvation. We stay connected to the Vine of Life. We remain in the Word of God that gives us strength and grace. Because we remain in the Word, we experience more fully His grace and forgiveness of sins along with new life.
So with that new life we weather storms, fires, earthquakes, famines, and the like. We deal with knowing that people will not show love to others and that there is hatred and fear. With that new life founded upon God's Word, we see the truth more clearly so that we can expose the lie.
And know this, the end is coming. What we see is "just the beginning." Hang in there.
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Hebrews 10:19-22: Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh, and since we have a great High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance fo faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
I hope that you won't skip over reading the blog today because you sense that the title is a little, "cheesy." It seems to simple. It sounds a bit generic.
That is true. The title isn't eye catching. At the same time, it describes very well the content of the passage. We have life with God because of Jesus. It's simple. Its' easy. Why do we need to make it complex?
A Simple Life:
There is one key phrase in our passage that keeps this very simple. It is, "by the blood of Jesus." Our life with God is bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus. It's simple. We are sinners. It's in our nature. We can talk about "choices" and "free will" all we want. It makes the simple complex. The simplicity is, that no matter what "choices" we make and no matter how "free" our will is, we will never be able to escape the bondage to our nature. Our nature is sinful, meaning, "against God."
And the simple thing is, it is "by the blood of Jesus" that we are "with God." God, through your faith and trust in Jesus and what He did, forgave you of your sins and sinful nature and cleansed your life so that you are "free and clear" to enter into the Holy place, being in the presence of God.
It is that simple.
Do you want to have a fuller life with God? Do you want a life with God? So here is how it's done.
Don't complicate it. Jesus died to forgive you. Jesus' blood shed is the means by which you are saved. There is nothing more simple than that. Believe. Trust God. And when you do, you will have a life with God.
Do You Want to Go Deeper?
Let's go deeper. Ask me your questions. Send me you comments. Let's go deeper into the simple Life with God.
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.