Thursday, February 21, 2019
Genesis 45:7-8: [Joseph is continuing to say,] "God sent me ahead of you to preserve you on the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now, it is not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me an adviser to Pharaoh, lord over all household, and ruler over all the land of Egypt."
What Was Happening:
Imagine a famine all over the region that was two years into a seven year cycle. People, if they were not prepared, would die. We have Joseph, son of Jacob, who was sold into slavery by 10 of his brothers, is not the ruler of Egypt. The only official above Joseph was the Pharaoh. Joseph has finally revealed himself, for the brothers did not recognize Joseph, to his brothers.
As you recall the events of Joseph's life, Pharaoh had a dream that no one could interpret. Only Joseph could. The dream was interpreted as seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Only Joseph interpreted the dream and was given the leadership to save the people from certain starvation.
And now Jacob and his family, the foundational family of the "State of Israel," were to be included in the salvation of nations.
All the heartache, guilt, and struggles that both Joseph and his brothers faced were now coming to fruition. As painful as their lives were sometimes, it was all for preparing a nation for its' greatness. It was preparation a people for salvation.
More than Food:
Joseph was setting up his family with more than a place to live with food a plenty. Joseph was setting up his descendants for growth and rescue. Joseph was setting up the nation of Israel for more than the Ten Commandments. He was setting them up for the arrival of their Savior, Jesus Christ.
Here is an interesting "tidbit of Biblical trivia." The name, Joseph, means "He will add." Through Joseph, God added salvation and life to the nation of Israel AND the entire world. Because of Joseph preparing the way for rescue, we have Jesus' rescue OF US from sin, death, hell, and the influence of Satan.
And the kicker is, God laid the foundation and prepared everyone for it. By God allowing Joseph's brothers to sell Joseph into slavery, we have freedom from sin.
God did it all. He is preparing you for salvation. You may not realize now why certain things are happening in your life. Some are bad. Some are good. Yet no matter what situations you find yourself in, it is all part of God's plan to lead you on the road of salvation. God the Father is leading you to God the Son, Jesus, by means of the work of God the Holy Spirit. He is leading you to Jesus Christ, the one who forgave your sins and cleansed you from all unrighteousness.
How has God prepared the way of salvation for you? What situations have led you to Jesus and His death and resurrection? Let's discuss it. Please let's share some experiences together.
Monday, February 18, 2019
Luke 6:35-36: [Jesus is saying,] "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to ungrateful and evil people. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."
Contrary to Popular Opinion:
Jesus is a radical. Jesus is a rebel. Why do I say that? Did you read what He said? Jesus is totally different than the way things happen in the world. Hate, not love is in the air. You can't watch a whole news cast and not see hatred and anger and fear running rampant. "Love your enemies?" Not anywhere that I have seen.
That is why Jesus is such a radical and a rebel. Jesus is teaching us to love our enemies.
The Reality Is:
Hatred runs the world right now. Think about it for a bit. And I'm not referring to Washington DC and the actions of elected leaders alone. I am referring to people being called names because of the color of their skin. I am also referring to when people give people "the cold shoulder." I am referring to the "Well, if you treat me badly, I'll treat you badly, too."
I am referring to the general attitude of animosity and fear that is gripping people. And do know from where that comes? Our sinful human nature. It comes from selfishness and self-centeredness. It come from the fundamental part of every human being that says, "I only care for me and I don't really care about you." That is sin in a nutshell.
The Counter Reality Is:
Jesus is the counter reality. Jesus is love, mercy, and grace. Jesus took on the hatred of people and showed them love. Jesus "turned the other cheek" and He died on the cross. Jesus allowed the brutality and sin to be poured full force upon Him. "By His wounds, we are healed." Through the most loving act, the sacrifice of Himself, Jesus loved His enemies and He said, "Father, forgiven them, for they don't know what they are doing."
This is what love looks like. This is what love did, and continues to do through us, the followers of Jesus. Our love mimics the love of Jesus. We are, "little Christs" to the world. And it starts now.
Do not let hatred run the day. When sin needs to be addressed, deal with it with love. Be truthful and straightforward. Forgive as Jesus has forgiven you. Challenge others with godly behavior and show them what love really is. Show them Jesus.
Would you be willing to share your story of love with others? Thank you.
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Jeremiah 17:5-7: The LORD says, "I will put a curse on people who trust in mere human beings, who depend on mere flesh and blood for their strength, and whose hearts have turned away from the LORD. They will be like a shrub in the desert. They will not experience good things even when they happen. It will be as though they were growing in the desert, in a salt land where no one can live. My blessing is on those people who trust in me, who put their confidence in me."
We all have an experience of someone failing us. We all know someone who did not live up to the expectations we placed on him or her. And when that happens, even though it may be a one time thing, we still will have a problem trusting that person fully.
And what about a person who constantly fails us? Time and time again we hear promises only to be dashed to pieces because he or she cannot, or will not, follow through. We hope against hope that things will change, but they don't.
And what happens when we trust a person? When we trust a "mere human being?" We get what we deserve. We get troubles, heartaches, and disappointments. We have sin. For even the most trustworthy person is going to fail at some point in time. It is human nature. That is the curse.
Please look back at the passage above. Do you notice that LORD is all caps? Why is that? It is to designate the Hebrew word translated to "LORD" is "Yahweh." The actual translation of "Yahweh" is, "I AM WHO I AM." It is the name of God. I am who am is the one you can trust for everything. He will never let you down. I am who I am will give you forgiveness and life. I am who I am will give you grace and mercy. God does, and will fulfill all of His promises. You can trust Him.
So I want to ask, "For what can you trust I am who I am?" Please comment in what you can trust Him.
Monday, February 11, 2019
Luke 6:22-23: [Jesus is saying,] "Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets."
Are These Blessings?
"If those are signs of being blessed, then I don't want to be blessed!" you may exclaim after reading these verses.
Who wants to be hated, excluded, reviled, and spurned? No body does. As a matter of fact, there are protests all over the world because people feel, and are, persecuted. People get angry about not being treated fairly and equitably.
And here is Jesus saying that we are blessed when experience them. What's up with that? And He wants us to be happy about it?
On Account of Jesus:
Now, let's be clear here. I deliberately left off a key phrase in what Jesus said earlier, on purpose. It was to get you to start to think about life, your status, and joy in life.
The key phrase is, "on account of the Son of Man." Said in a different way, "on account of Jesus, who is the Son of Man and Son of God."
You see, when we suffer because we believe and live with Jesus, that is joyous. People who don't believe see us as "Out of touch," "believing in a false prophet," or "believing in a person who didn't exist." Ask your "Alexa" who Jesus Christ is.
We suffer because we believe in the true God. We faced "challenges" because we believe in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world who gave up His body and shed His blood in order to forgive us our sins. We get hurt by people because they don't know and understand. We get hurt because we believe in someone beyond ourselves.
And We Rejoice!
Yup, we rejoice in the sufferings. For two reasons.
The first is: People are angry and are afraid of what they don't understand, or believe. They don't know Jesus. They don't want to know Jesus. And, if you dug down deep, they are afraid that we are right, that Jesus is who we say He is. So let us rejoice that we are making a difference.
The second is: Even though things happen to Christians because of our faith in Jesus, we know that "heaven is our home." We will struggle in this world. And when we pass, there will be no more struggles, forever. It is something to look forward to. It is something about which we rejoice.
So rejoice, Christian.
Monday, February 4, 2019
Luke 5:4-8, 10b: And when He [Jesus] had finished speaking, He said to Simon, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." And Simon answered, "Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at Your word I will let down the nets." And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down and Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." ... And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid. From now on you will be catching men."
Have you ever doubted somebody because of what he or she said to you? Of course. It happens all the time. For example, a friend will say to you, "The Patriots are going to win the Super Bowl." Your answer is also immediate saying, "No way. They're getting way to old. LA's younger and hungrier." Then, guess what? New England wins the Super Bowl, again.
What is your first reaction? To go your friend and basically say, "I'm sorry that I doubted you."
The scenario is similar. Simon Peter, who had just finished fishing and came back with nothing, hears Jesus say, "Head out. Let's go fishing." Peter's answer was, "The fish aren't biting. We tried all night long." Peter is in effect saying, "Jesus, you don't know what you're asking. Do you know these waters? Have you ever once been out on a boat? No. You're a carpenter. Stick to wood working please."
And Yet... Peter knew something. He couldn't put his finger on it. He believed, to a point, and trusted that Jesus was going to do something. That is why Peter replied to Jesus' request the way he did. AND I'M SURE, there was a twinge of sarcasm in his voice.
Lo and behold, Peter caught so much fish that he need James and John's boat to bring in the catch. Peter realized his doubt, confessed his sin of doubting Jesus through words and falling on his knees, a show of humility, confession, and adoration of Jesus.
Do we doubt? Do we wonder if all of what Jesus says and did is true? Sure we do. At the same time, we believe and trust. So what wins the day? Jesus' words to Peter, AND TO US, do. "Don't be afraid." Jesus says. Let go of the fear that drives the doubt and le the faith and trust in Jesus guide your day.
And in the end, you will be fishing for men, too.
Monday, January 28, 2019
Luke 4:34-36: "Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are - the Holy One of God." But Jesus rebuked him [the unclean spirit possessing a man,] "Be silent and come out of him!" And when the demon had thrown him [the man possessed] down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. And they were all amazed and said to one another, "What is this word? For with and authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out."
Have you ever done anything wrong? And before you answer that, also consider this question. Who held you accountable for what you did?
Sin and its' Consequence:
We all have done something wrong. No one is perfect. Except for Jesus, who is both God (conceived by the Holy Spirit) and Man (born of the virgin Mary), no one born of a man and a woman is perfect. Some call the wrong things we do "mistakes" or "bad choices." Christians call them actions based upon a sinful nature, therefore what we do in sinful.
And sin has consequences. And the consequences of sin are more than "a time out." The consequences of sin are separation from God, both on earth AND forever.
The Man and the Unclean Spirit:
The unclean spirit, or demon, had possessed this man. Why, I don't know, he decided to challenge Jesus. Was it out of defiance? Or was it fear? What we do know is what Jesus did.
Jesus challenged sin in the man and the unclean spirit. Jesus, with authority and power, commanded the spirit to come out of the man. And when God speaks, even demons listen.
Sin possessed the man. The devil had a hold on him. It takes Jesus to unloose that hold and command the sin and demon to leave.
We Too, have the Authority and Power:
Jesus does the same to you and me as He did to the man possessed. Jesus commands the sin and the influence of Satan to leave us. How? Jesus lived the perfect life. He did not sin. He could not sin. Jesus is God and man. He is the perfect example. The command to get out was done by the forgiveness won through His death. Because Jesus allowed His body to be broken and His blood shed, Jesus spoke the words, "Come out of him. Come out of her." When Jesus rose, He gave to each of us who believe a life freed from sin. It no longer has the power to possess us. And now we have the authority and power.
The authority and power to say to sin and the devil, "Leave me alone." comes from Jesus. And we also have the authority and power to help others who are in the same trap of sin and possession. It is Jesus working through us.
Wednesday, January 9, 2019
Romans 6:3-5: Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His.
Connected to Jesus:
To use a cliche, we are "joined at the hip" with Jesus. We are connected to Jesus because of what He did for us. Jesus died. Jesus rose. That is the simple truth.
So how are we connected to Jesus? Again, God shares the simple truth. It is through baptism. Baptism washes us clean because we are dead in sin and trespasses. Without the connection to Jesus, we will die in our sins and not have eternal life with Him.
But because of God's love and Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, we are forgiven and given a new life. Jesus died to forgive us. Baptism drowns and causes the death of our sinful nature. Jesus rose out of the grave. Baptism pours life into us so that we will live with Him.
Again, it is a simple truth. It's all about being united with Jesus. We have forgiveness because of Jesus. We have life because of Jesus. When we are baptized, when water is poured on us, or we are immersed AND the Word of God is spoken, we are connected to all the life that Jesus is and gave freely.
It is the connection between the death and life of Jesus to the death of sin and resurrection of new life in us.
Monday, January 7, 2018
Luke 3:16-17: John answered them all, saying, "I baptize you with water, but He who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, to clear His threshing floor and to gather the wheat into His barn, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire."
"The set up man" is a term used in baseball to describe the pitcher who came into a game just before the closer, the pitcher who ended the game without the other team winning. The "set up man" was the one who prepared the game for the closer so that the closer would come in and finish the game.
John the Baptist:
John the Baptist was Jesus' "set up man." John "prepared the way" as the prophets long before foretold. John knew what his role was. John said later, "I must decrease. He must increase." After John, it was all about Jesus who John called, "The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."
Yet here is the kicker. John is setting US up for Jesus, not the other way. John is prepare US for Jesus' arrival. John is making us aware of the great and awe full work of Jesus.
Set Up for Jesus:
John is making sure that we are ready for the work that is about to happen. John is preparing us for the judgment.
We will be judged. The judgment is simple. Either live according to the human nature that does not want to honor God and thereby burn in the unquenchable fire forever. OR, believe in the salvation of Jesus' life, death, resurrection, and ascension and live in Jesus' presence both now and forever.
We Have an Opportunity:
"Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." Believe and live according to the grace and mercy of God. John the Baptist is setting us up for life, which is the life of Jesus.
Wednesday, January 2, 2019
Matthew 2:1-2: Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him."
The Season of Christmas:
The Season of Christmas is the shortest season in the Church calendar. It is only 12 days long. After Christmas is the season of Epiphany, which is also called, "The Season of Light," specifically the light of Jesus. The thirteenth day after Christmas is this coming Sunday.
Why the calendar lesson? It ties to our reading today. It is the day that we celebrate the arrival of the "Wise Men," or "The "Magi," to the house of Joseph, Mary, and the toddler Jesus. The Wise Men didn't arrive on the day of Jesus' birth.
The Reason They Came:
The Wise Men wherever they lived, saw a brand new star appear in the western sky. It was never seen before. They knew the night sky well enough to know this was not ordinary. I am sure that it was, "a curiosity" at least. Whatever research they did to attempt to discover the meaning of its' appearance, they left their home and went in the direction it took them. They saw the light.
There was something about this star that lead them to conclude to follow it. I believe that it was in the answer they gave to Herod. "We have come to worship the new born King of the Jews." They saw Jesus' external light and they wanted to be in His internal light. The star was the guide to lead them to Jesus.
The Reason We Come:
We come to Jesus because we see the light of Him who saved us and gave us life. We believe in Him who is the light and life that shines in our dark lives.
Why are we in darkness? Sin and sinful acts keeps us in darkness. When we believe in Jesus and see His light, we are cleansed from all sin and God the Father declares us clean and righteous.
And how did God lead you to the light? Through what or whom did you see the light? For me, it was my parents. They raised me in the presence of God and God's people. Through them I came to faith and received the light of the Gospel of Jesus. God used them to bring me to where I saw the light.
We Lead Others:
Because of faith, we are light bearers. We are the star to people we know. We are the light bearers. We shine the light of Jesus day and night. We never do it perfectly. We still have sin lingering in our lives. Our light is sometimes fuzzy and not as bright as we think it should be. People see the light through frail and weak sinners.
So what is the light we shine? Simple. It's forgiveness. The light of Jesus is the forgiveness of sins that He freely gave through the sacrifice of His life. Jesus forgave us our sins because God loves us so much. Perfection is NOT the light. FORGIVENESS OF SINS IS. When we live as forgiven sinners, we show Jesus' light. When we live forgiveness, being forgiven and forgiving others, we shine Jesus.
Shine the light of forgiveness. Shine Jesus.
Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Philippians 2:3-11: Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
There is No Doubt:
If you had any doubts as to who Jesus is, consider those doubts done away with. This is clear. Jesus is not just a man. Jesus is not just a "miracle worker." Jesus is not a nice man trying to do the right thing and got caught up in the politics of the day.
Jesus is God, sent from heaven. Jesus is both God and man at the same time. Jesus obeyed God the Father right to the cross. Jesus bore the curse of dying on a cross so that we would not have to. Jesus died so that we would live.
Therefore God the Father exalted Jesus, Y'shua, Joshua, "the one who saves," because of the humility that is Jesus. The Son of God and Son of Man set aside the power, majesty, and glory that is being God, and became nothing for you and me. Because of Jesus, we have the glory of God.
What Do We Do?
What else? We see Jesus as He truly is. Jesus is God. Jesus is man. Jesus saved us from ourselves, our ego, our pride, our arrogance, our "manifest destiny" of greatness, and takes us down "a few notches." Jesus helps us see ourselves with humility. In that humility comes confession, repentance, and forgiveness.
And in that forgiveness we see God's grace flowing through us. No longer do we act solely to benefit ourselves. We see the needs of others more clearly. We grace and mercy that comes from God the Father through Jesus. We see that life of service that was given to us and, to use the phrase, we "pay it forward."
When we experience Christmas, let us experience it with love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness.
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.