Confrontation, Conversion, Action
Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Acts 9:3-6, 10-12, 17-18, 22 Now as he [Saul] went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" And he said, "Who are you, Lord?" And He said, I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do." ... Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. the Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." And he he said, "Here I am, Lord." And the Lord said to him, "Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold he is praying and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight." ... So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. The he rose and was baptized. ... But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who live in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.
The Confrontation of Saul:
Saul, who was trying to destroy the new Christian Church, called "The Way" at that time, had permission from the Sanhedrin to persecute and arrest the disciples in Damascus. On his way there, Saul was "knocked to his knees" by the presence of Jesus. In that confrontation, Saul was blinded.
Why did Jesus do this? It's simple. Jesus needed Saul "see" a different path to God and life with God. So blind and helpless, Saul heads to Damascus being helped by his traveling companions.
Have you had a "Confrontation Experience" with God? Has God knocked you to your knees? Has God interrupted your path in order to show you a new one? I hope so. We all need it. We need God to knock some sense into our thick heads tainted by sin. We need to know that we are helpless and in need of our Savior Jesus Christ.
The Conversion of Saul:
Saul had time to sit and ponder his life. Saul had time to reflect on the actions of God in his life while waiting for an Ananias to arrive.
Then Ananias arrived and removed the blindness that Saul had. And it wasn't just the blindness of his eyes. It the was blindness of his life. First the physical sight returned then the spiritual sight began. Saul was baptized and washed clean. He received the Holy Spirit and a new person began. This new person, eventually to be renamed Paul, received the grace and mercy of Jesus. Saul's life turned 180 degrees away from where he was headed. Saul was headed now to life with God.
Have you, after being confronted by God, taken the time to ponder and meditate on your life? I hope so. Because this meditation leads to repentance. Through Confession of your sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteous.
God the Holy Spirit, comes to you and removes the barriers and the sin that keep you from seeing God. Through Holy Baptism, God washes you. Through confession, God absolves you of your sins and declares you righteous, forgiven, and free. Have you been baptized? If you haven't contact me.
Saul's New Life in Action:
Saul was a changed man. No longer did he work against God. Saul began to work for God. Empowered by the Spirit, Saul lived out his new life in Christ through preaching and teaching.
He baffled people. He caused confrontation. He addressed sin and death in people's lives. And through the words and actions, God converted people to "The Way" of Jesus Christ. People's lives were transformed. God turned their lives around. Instead of running from God, people were running to God.
Your New Life in Action:
God the Holy Spirit has changed your life. He has turned you 180 degrees in the opposite direction. You have a new life when you believe and are baptized.
And the new life has a purpose and focus. You, along with hundreds and thousands of believers work in concert in order to confront and convert people.
Do You Want to Know More?
Send me a note. We can talk.
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
John 20:26-29: Eight days later [after Easter Sunday], His disciples were inside again and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." The He said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and plance it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." Thomas answered Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not see and yet have believed."
He seems to be labeled all the time. For centuries Thomas was labeled, "Doubting Thomas." The reason? It's simply, really. Thomas was using reason and rationalism to determine whether or not he was going to believe that Jesus was alive. Did Thomas trust the words of his fellow disciples? He didn't. Thomas had to "see for himself." Then he would believe.
Seeing is Not Faith:
Seeing, touching, and hearing are our senses that we use in order to experience reality. For example, someone tells me that the steaks at Lone Star Steak House are great, I will want to try for myself before I would agree. I would have to experience it.
Faith is trusting the words of your friend without you having to taste them yourself.
I think Thomas believed. At the same time, his human nature took over. Still in grief and sorrow, and even some guilt, Thomas had an extremely difficult time trusting his friends who said that Jesus was alive. So that is why I think that Thomas said, "Unless I see..."
The conflict did not resolve itself until he saw Jesus, in the flesh.
Then Jesus then tells Thomas that faith is not about what he experienced through his senses.
Faith goes beyond seeing. Faith is about trusting what you don't see. Faith is trusting your gut. Faith is trusting what someone else says and accepting the truth of it.
Jesus is talking about our faith. Jesus is talking about the reality that we believe the words and experiences of others, including Jesus, and accepting them as true and right without having to have experienced them ourselves. Faith in who Jesus is and what He did goes beyond our own frame of reference.
Does that make us conflicted? You bet. We believe. We also have questions. And who will lead us beyond our conflict and questions to a simple faith and trust in the truth of Jesus and what He did? God the Holy Spirit will through the eye witness accounts of the reality of Jesus.
What do you think? Let's share a few words about faith.
The Point of Easter
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
This is the most wonderful expression of love, EVER!
Why? It’s because of God’s great love to raise Christ Jesus from death. St. Paul writes in 1st Corinthians 15: 20-28:
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.
God's Love for Us:
God loved us to send Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of Man into our world to be our Savior. Jesus died and thereby forgave our sins. Jesus rose to complete the work God the Father sent Him to do. The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of our resurrection.
Our Need for Salvation:
God knows that we can’t fulfill all of His Law perfectly. We are hopelessly lost in sin, which leads to death. That is why Jesus is the one AND ONLY human who obeyed the law of the Father perfectly. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s Law on our behalf.
God also knows that we need to be saved from our sins. We are stained with sin. The only way that stain will ever be removed is by means of the blood of the innocent sacrifice of Jesus. That is why Good Friday is called “Good.” Jesus died. He is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” We are cleaned of all sinned.
The Gift of Life:
And the “TADA” of God’s work is Jesus’ resurrection. His resurrection is the promise that we too will rise from sin and death into His new life for us now as well as forever. This is God’s ultimate act of love. He brought life to sinners. He brought hope to the hopeless. God brought mercy to those who need it.
And we express of that love in our Easter greeting:
Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Come and join us this Holy Week for all of our services. Check out our website, www.faithhuntsville.org for service days and times. See you at one or all of our services.
What I Lose and Gain
Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Philippians 3:8-12: Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith - that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him hi His death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the deea. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, bu I press on to make i my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own.
People spend a life time chasing after "things." What are those "things?" They include, riches, property, status, fame, pride, and power, just to name a few. There are those who want it all. There are those who want it all, NOW. The Bible uses a phrase to describe this pursuit. "Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless, a chasing after the wind."
Think about it. Fame is fleeting. Athletic prowess ends faster than it starts. Money can disappear in a moment. Power and control are illusions. You'll never have enough power and you can't control everything. If we chase after these "things" of the world, we will never have them completely. That is the reality.
The only thing that lasts not only in our lifetimes, but forever, is Jesus Christ. Through faith in Him, we have something of far greater worth than the temporary things of this world. We will have eternal life with God.
So I look at my life, including the material blessings that God provides to sustain my life, as a loss. I do not grieve about it. I won't miss it, too much, when it goes away. My life is in God the Father who sent Jesus, God the Son, to save me of my sins. Jesus "lost" His life in order to "find" mine and yours. The gains that I have outshine the brightest things in this world.
I gain a wealth from God that is light years better than any wealth on earth. I gain a heavenly home, far larger and grander than any castle and mansion on earth. I care not for fame, power, status, and pride. Those things won't exist in heaven. Believers are, and forever will be, one in status with Christ Jesus my Lord.
I gain heaven when I believe in what Jesus did for me here on earth. I gain life eternal when I believe now in this lifetime. I gain it all.
I don't have it all, NOW. I will when I get to heaven. So in the time that I have NOW, I will live according to God's love and grace and favor. I will offer my life as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to Him.
Is this heavenly life intriguing to you? Do you want to know more? Let's talk. And then let's see what you can gain through Jesus.
Monday, April 1, 2019
2nd Corinthians 5:17-18: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
No, this not an April Fools joke. This is real.
When we are "in Christ," we are a new creation. What that means is this. All we were is now gone. The blood of Jesus washes us clean from the inside out. We cannot "reinvent" ourselves. We are remade. We cannot "lift ourselves up by our boot straps." We are picked up from death and ruin into life and salvation.
How can this happen?
"All this is from God..." You have heard the phrase, "a leopard cannot change his spots." How true. Neither can we. We cannot change the fact that we are conceived and born into sin. Only God makes the change. Only God through Christ will change this lowly body and transform it into a heavenly body. Only God through Christ creates someone new out of someone old. We are dead to sin and alive to righteousness.
The Key Phrase:
"if anyone is IN Christ. (emphasis mine), he is a new creation." To be "In Christ" necessitates for us not to be "in self." Something has to give. Something has to go away for us to be "in Christ."
What has to go away?
We do. Jesus was told by Martha after the death of her brother Lazarus, "If you had come when we wanted you to, my brother would not have died." Jesus' reply was, "Your brother will rise again." Martha's reply to that was, "Yes, I know that Lazarus will rise on the last day." Then Jesus says something amazing. Jesus takes what Martha said and took it one step further. Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in, even though he will die, yet will he live and whoever believes in me shall never die."
To live in Christ means that we have to die. We have to die to sin and unrighteousness. When we believe in Jesus and what He did, we "crucify" the flesh and live according to spirit of Jesus' death and resurrection. Jesus died in order to forgive our sins. Jesus rose to give to us a new life.
Through Christ we are new creations. Through Christ we have new lives that live in the world today AND will live with Jesus forever. We are new creations.
Let's discuss this. I would like to invite you to comment. What are your thoughts.
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.