The Shepherd's Way
Thursday, April 27, 2017
Psalm 28:8-9: The LORD is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed. Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever.
Do we know where we're going? With today's technology and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) we shouldn't get lost at all. No longer will we drive around the Pentagon about five times before getting off the highway at the right exit. It's what happened to my dad when I was in 3rd grade on a family vacation to Washington, D.C. If my dad had a GPS then he could have followed the instructions and gotten back to the hotel without my mom getting very angry. :-)
At the same time, we need a "GPS" for life in general, not just on the roads. We need someone directing us through life. If we don't have that "GPS," "God Positioning System," we'll truly be lost. We can say, "I know what I'm doing." Then we find out that we truly don't know. We all need a guide, someone who knows the "road of life" ahead. We need a shepherd.
We have Jesus, our Good Shepherd. Jesus is leading to us God the Father by means of His perfect obedience of the Will of God. Jesus is directing us to God through His sacrifice and life giving crucifixion bestowing to us our forgiveness. Jesus lands us in our greener pastures of eternal life with Him through His resurrection and ascension. Jesus is carrying and leading us to the Father.
So, through faith and trust in our Good Shepherd, Jesus, we follow. He knows the way. Jesus, lead us. And all God's people say...
Life Comes to Us
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
John 3:31: [John the Baptist is saying,] "He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all."
John is talking about Jesus. Some of John's followers were expressing concern that Jesus was becoming more popular than John and that more people were going to Jesus. John is telling them, "That's okay. As a matter of fact, that is exactly what is supposed to happen. 'The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world' must increase and I, who was the set up man for the Savior, must decrease. The One from heaven is now taking the lead. Listen to Him."
The One from heaven, the One who came to save, is here. Jesus is here. Life with God, both now and forever, is here. Can you see Him? He's right here. He is in His Word. When you read the Bible, you're reading about Him. You're hearing His voice. Jesus is leading you. He is out in front of you, Your heavenly Shepherd is guiding you home. He is leading you through the valley of the shadow of death. Don't worry. His rod and staff are guiding you through. He is taking you to green pastures. Believe and know that Jesus is here. Life has come to us. Let's pray.
Dear Father, thank You for sending Jesus into our lives in order to lead us to life. Teach us in order to follow and live the life that You gave to us. We pray this in Jesus' name. And all God's children say...
Running Towards Life
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Romans 8:11: If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
Let's pray. Dear God, thank You for the Holy Spirit. Jesus, thank You for giving to us the life of grace and forgiveness. Holy Spirit, lead us in our run to eternal life. We pray this in Jesus' name. And all God's children say...
The Spirit of God is a powerful person. He is God, the third person alongside the Son, Jesus, and the Father. He is our motivator, our strength, and our encouragement. He is the one who constantly reminds us of our sins AS WELL AS reminding us of Jesus and His life giving life. The Spirit of God dwells in us. He keeps our feet moving in life today toward eternal life with Him, the Father, and Jesus.
If the Spirit of God is in you, He will do for you as He promised. He will give us eternal life. And the Spirit of God IS IN YOU when you believe. When you believe in the salvation that God gave to you in Jesus and the new life that He gave to you, the Spirit of God is leading you to run. Run with the prize that God gave to you. The Spirit of God is giving you energy, strength, fortitude, and love that will get you to eternal life. He is feeding you with the Word of God. It is your energy source to run the marathon of life to eternal life. Let's run.
Monday, April 24, 2017
Ruth 1:16: But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you [Naomi] or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.
Here is dedication. Here is commitment. Here is FAITH. Ruth loves Naomi so much that Ruth is willing not only to follow Naomi to a new country and a new land, and to dedicate her life to a new God. Ruth is ready, willing, and able to go into the new land and life. Ruth is taking "a leap of faith." Both Naomi and Ruth have no idea what will happen when they arrive at Naomi's hometown of Bethlehem. At the same time they trust to God who will lead them and guide them
It is the same with us. We believe and trust in God. We follow His lead. We know and believe in all of what God did for us. At the same time, we also struggle with following. Sometimes we are "fuzzy" about God's will and what He wants. Sometimes it is difficult to take the "leap of faith" because we are scared of the unknown. Sometimes our trust is shaky.
That is why we look to the examples of faith, like Ruth and Naomi. That is why God gave them to us. "If they trusted God throughout all the hardships and challenges they face, we will too." we say. It is our faith's commitment. Let's pray.
Dear God and Father, thank You for Jesus and all that He did. Thank You for salvation. Thank You for the Holy Spirit who guides us and directs us. Lead us to walk by faith and trust You. We pray this in Jesus' name. And all God's children say...
The Rightness of God
Thursday, April 20, 2017
Psalm 35:5-6: Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD.
We have a tendency to "sell God short." What does this mean? We have this tendency to "put God in our own box" of our own making. Or we keep God "at a distance." We don't let Him get close. Or we have a "surface relationship" with God. What is the "bear minimum?"
When we put God is a box of our own making, God becomes a god of convenience. We pull Him out when we think we need Him. When we have a surface relationship with God and/or we keep God at a distance, we don't let Him get close enough to make any significant impact in our lives or cut to the core of our issues and sins.
That is why these words from God through the psalmist are powerful. The words cut through the barriers of the box. These words cut deeper into our lives and push through the arms and hands that try to keep God away. God the Holy Spirit, cuts through all the barriers we put up. He cuts to the core of our lives And when we stop resisting God and allow His rightness into our lives, something wonderful happens. We realize and "accept" the rightness of God to convict our souls of sin, convert our lives to grace, and live our lives with His love. We believe and God will do His thing through us. Let's pray.
Father God, thank You for Your rightness that came through Jesus and His life for us. Thank You for the Holy Spirit who challenges, changes, and encourages us in our lives with You. Lead us to more fully "let You in." We pray this in Jesus' name. And all God's children say...
He is in Our Lives
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Zephaniah 3:17: The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
Let's pray. Dear God and Father, we give You thanks and praise because of Your great love for us. Move us to respond to Your love and forgiveness. We pray this in Jesus' name. And all God's children say...
This verse is the key to our lives as Christians. God our heavenly Father, God the Son Jesus who saved us from our sins, and God the Holy Spirit who empowers and strengthens us, rejoice over us who live and have our lives based upon Him. God, one essence as well as three persons, sees us and responds to us with "Jesus colored glasses."
He knows full well our sins and sinfulness. He knows full well if we were left to our own selves, we will sin our way into hell. He knows full well His love for us and the salvation of our lives that Jesus gave. He knows full well that Jesus is the fulfillment of all of God's Law for us. He knows full well Jesus' death was the sacrifice that saved us. He knows full well that Jesus' resurrection gave us a NEW LIFE to live today as well as forever.
Now what? What is our response to this reality? As Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, "Go and sin no more." "Seek first the kingdom of God and everything else will be added unto you."
By the power of the Holy Spirit, we live our lives believing and knowing that God is always with us, loving us, shaping us, and strengthening us.
Elijah then Jesus then Us
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Mark 9:11-13: And they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” And he said to them, “Elijah does come first to restore all things. And how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.”
Let's pray. Father God, thank You for Elijah then Jesus and then us. Thank You for Elijah's preparation, Jesus' fulfillment, and our living out the message of salvation and grace. We pray this in Jesus' name. And all God's children say...
It was told that Elijah, the prophet taken up to heaven in the chariot of fire, would return and be the "set up man" for the Messiah. (Malachi 4:5). Some are still waiting for him to arrive. Jesus said, "He has already come and gone and he did what he was supposed to do. Jesus confirmed that the "Elijah" people were waiting for was John the Baptist. "Elijah's" work of preparation is complete. He handed it off the the Messiah, the Christ, who is Jesus.
And Jesus is handing off the work to us. Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit so that we use His power in order to bring His salvation to life and light to the world. It is now our task as God's servants to bring Jesus to the people who need to know Him.
Monday, April 17, 2017
Romans 12:1-2: I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Let's pray. Dear God, we ask You to continue to guide our hearts and minds to Your will. Lead us by the power of the Holy Spirit, to offer ourselves to Your life and ways. We pray this in Jesus' name. And all God's children say...
Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! This is the greeting that we said in yesterday's services as well as the greeting we continue to share with each other for the season after Easter. It is a time of great celebration. Jesus is alive! He has risen from the grave in order to give to us a brand new resurrected life while we still live on earth as well as the eternal resurrected life.
And while we are still live on earth, we need to ask ourselves, "Now what? What does my life look like, act like, and live like as 'resurrected people?'" Let's start with our verses today. St. Paul calls us to "present your bodies as a living sacrifice." This means that we offer ourselves to God. We sacrifice the desire to "do what's best for me." We sacrifice our thoughts and actions that are a vain attempt to make us better than we are. We focus upon the sacrifice of God. We set our lives on the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. Jesus is our source, our motivation, and our strength so that we offer ourselves to Him and "worship" God through our lives.
Esteemed Him Not
Thursday, April 13, 2017
Isaiah 53:2-3: For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Let's pray. Dear God, lead us to more fully be aware and connected to Jesus and what He went through in order to save our lives. We pray this in Jesus' name. And all God's children say...
Tonight's worship service, by the way that starts at 6:30pm, kicks off our Holy Week services. Jesus, as we heard yesterday, fulfilled the Old Covenant into the New Covenant in Himself. Today, we will begin the long and grief stricken walk to Calvary, the Place of the Stone.
We know of the torture that Jesus went through from about 9:00 in the evening Thursday until 3:00 in the afternoon Friday. Yet are we fully aware that God let us know about it around 600 years before it even happened? The entire 53rd chapter of Isaiah graphically describes what happened to Jesus. I encourage to read it.
And that leads me to point this out. What was written about Jesus 600 years before His birth is equally as relevant 2000 plus years after His death and resurrection. We, meaning the human race as a whole, doesn't know Jesus. We don't care about Him. He's a guy that woke up on the wrong side of the Sanhedrin and the Roman guard one morning.
At the same time, God meant all of it to be for our salvation. God allowed it to happen so that through the actions of a "nobody," we have life to the full, full of forgiveness and grace. So let us see and recognize Jesus for who He truly is and what He did.
The Blood that Saves
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Exodus 12:13-14: [God is speaking to Moses,] "The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast."
Let's pray. Dear God and Father, thank You for the Passover celebration. Thank You for saving the nation of Israel and that You "passed over" the homes. Thank You for saving us through the blood of Jesus. We pray this in Jesus' name. And all God's children say...
This is the goal of the Passover. It was the blood that saves. It wasn't the meal. It wasn't the killing of the one year old male lamb that had no defect. It wasn't the "painting" of the blood on the door frame. It was the blood of the Lamb that God saw that saved the people from grief, despair, and death. Those who ate the meal, killed the lamb, and painted its' blood on the door, those who did it because they believed in God and His salvation, were saved by the blood of the lamb.
And we are saved by the blood of The Lamb. We are saved by Jesus who John the Baptist called, "The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." Jesus IS the sacrificial Lamb for all people's sins over every age. God passes over our sins. Even though we die, we will live forever because of Jesus.
And we celebrate what Jesus did. We receive His body that is in and with the bread that was broken for us. We receive His blood that is in and with the wine for the forgiveness of our sins. We celebrate because we believe that Jesus' blood saves.
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.