Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Matthew 28:18 - 20: And Jesus came and said to the them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am will you always, to the end of the age."
What do you think of when you ponder on the word, "Equip?" If you would like, please comment what you think "Equip" means.
I am taking the aspect of, "get ready for something." For example, if you're going on a trip, what do you need to do to get ready for it? If you're taking a test, what do you need to get ready for it?
The Christian Church is on a mission from God. In our verses today, we have been given both our mission and the means to equip to Church for her mission.
Our mission is, "make disciples of all nations." Wherever we go, in whatever situation we find ourselves in, we have but one mission. Jesus commands us to make disciples of everybody. That is a monumental mission. Jesus wants everyone to be saved and come to believe in Him as their salvation and life. And how are we equipped for this calling?
We have Holy Baptism. It is a gift from God uses that ties us to Jesus. We are baptized into Jesus' death and resurrection. We are washed clean from sin. We are linked to the forgiveness and life that Jesus gave when He died on the cross and rose to new life. We give this gift as part of making disciples.
We also have everything in hand that Jesus commanded for us to keep and follow and put into practice. We have the Bible, God's inspired and inerrant Word. With God's Word we are equipped to go forward. And God's Word is more than "an instruction manual." It is the means by which my life is changed. My life was changed by the power of the Holy Spirit who works through God's Word. God equips me with the realization that I am a sinner and that I am incapable of doing all Jesus commands. I also believe that I am a saved man through what Jesus did. I realize that God's grace is poured out to me through the Word. I know about Jesus by means of the Word. I am equipped to be a disciple. My mission, along with the entire Church, is to make disciples of all people. Dear Holy Spirit, continue to equip us through Your Word so that we move forward in mission, Amen.
Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Isaiah 6:8: And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."
Have you ever been in a situation where someone asked you, indirectly and you know that you were being asked, to so something and you were both terrified enough to say, "Is there anyone else in the room?" AND to say, "YES!" complete with fist pump? All of us have. We have been placed into situations where we both want to run and hide from the responsibility and run headlong into the challenge and take it on.
Isaiah finds himself in this very situation. God and His presence fills the Holy Place of the Temple from the Holy of Holies. Isaiah sees God in all of His glory. Isaiah is petrified. He believes that he will die because Isaiah saw the face of God. Instead of death, Isaiah receives life and forgiveness. And it is after Isaiah receives forgiveness for his sins, when God asks the question.
"Is there anyone here who will go for us?" God asks, knowing that Isaiah is right there. Isaiah, through his growing fear, wonder, and confusion, boldly and faithfully confesses, "I will. Send me."
We all have doubts, worries, concerns, and outright fear when it comes to serving God. Doubts like, "Do I have the skills? Will I do the right thing? I'm not very qualified." Concerns like, "What if I mess up? What if I get tongue tied?" All of these doubts and concerns come from fear. And fear can, and does sometimes, paralyze us.
However, there is faith. Martin Luther as he explains the meaning of the First Commandment, "You shall have no other gods before me." says, "We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things." In other words, believe in God with everything that you have. Fear is a partial motivator. The fear of disappointing God. And the same time love is a far greater motivator. Jesus calls us to "love the Lord your God with all your mind, all, self, and will. And love your neighbor as yourself." Trust Him to provide all that you need to do what He is asking you to do. God has never let you down. He isn't right now. And God will NEVER let you down going forward.
"Lean on me, when you're not strong. And I'll be your friend. I help you carry on." are great words from Bill Withers. Let's use them. God is saying them to us. Here I am God, send me.
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
What does God want? What is THE most important thing? Is it loving one another? God does want us to love each other. After all, Jesus did say, "Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and will. And the second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hinge on this." Yet that is inspired by something else. Does God want us to follow His will? He does. Again doing what is in line with God's will, based upon the Ten Commandments, is very important. It defines our love. However, there is even one thing more important than loving God, loving one another, and doing the Commandments. Jesus tells us.
John 3:14: [Jesus is saying to Nicodemus,] "Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life."
Moses fashioned a snake from bronze as a tool of God's forgiveness and life. The ancient Israelites sinned against God. God sent fiery serpents amongst the people. If they were bit, they died. As the punishment for sin, which is death by the way, was being realized, the people came to Moses and confessed their sin and disobedience to the will of God. They pleaded for forgiveness so that they would live. God's plan was to have the bronze serpent Moses made to be put on a pole, or a "tree." All the people who were bitten by the snakes had to do was look at the bronze serpent and believe that God is forgiving, and they would not die. God gave them life.
That is the foundation of why Jesus said what He did to Nicodemus. This is a key verse to what God wants. God wants us to look to the Son of Man, AKA Jesus, as He is lifted up on the cross. When we believe in Jesus, the one time sacrifice for all of our sins, the resurrection and the life, we will not die. We will live now as forgiven sons and daughters of God, AND live eternally with the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Our lives as Christians, AKA Disciples of Jesus, hinges on this truth. I love because God first loved me and sent Jesus into my life to sacrifice Himself for me. I adhere to the Ten Commandments because 1. Jesus did them perfectly because I cannot, and 2. I am forgiven and renewed and restored to the status of Adam and Eve before the fall.
Most people don't get this. People do not see the sacrifice of Jesus as the key to forgiveness and life and a relationship with God. Most people still think, "If I do good to others and 'love my enemies,' I will be saved." That's bogus. It's backwards. The key to life is "believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved." This is what God wants. He wants us freed from sin, death, the influence of Satan, and hell. Loving God, loving people, and following the Ten Commandments is based upon, "I know that my Redeemer lives." God, lead us to more fully believe in what Jesus did for us so that we will live for You, amen.
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Acts 2:22-24: [Peter is preaching,] "Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man clearly attested to you by God with powerful deeds, wonders, and miraculous signs that God performed among you through Him, just as you yourselves know - this man, who was handed over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you executed by nailing Him to the cross at the hands fo the Gentiles. But God raised Him up, having released Him from the pains of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held in its power."
On the Day of Pentecost nearly 2000 years ago, St. Peter's sermon to the crowd began with these words. Peter and the rest of the first generation Christians and Pastors started a movement that has continued worldwide since that day. Billions of people were, are, and will be saved when they believe and know these words. These words are the center and core of Christians all over the world. These words mean everything for not only Christians. These words are for non-Christians too who need the truth of grace and salvation that God put into place.
Are we still listening to the words? Do we care what God is saying? Or do we just dismiss it, dismiss God's Words as "irrelevant and out of touch." Do we, as people, think we need to be saved? "Saved from what?" is the next question. We need saving from ourselves. We need God to show us that there is more than satisfying our desires, goals along with following meaningless gods. Without God's Words, our lives are chaotic, selfish, and headed for eternal life in hell. We need God and His grace that came to us through Jesus and what He did.
These are not empty words. This is not meaningless chatter that Christians and Pastors say. There is power in the words for the words are "The Word of God." These words bring life, salvation, mercy, and grace. These words bring Jesus to us. The words convict hearts, change lives, and reorient people out of self and into Jesus.
So to all the Christians who are reading my words: allow them to resonate and lead you to ask, "What shall I do? How will I put my faith into greater action with a fuller purpose?" To all the non-Christians who are reading my words: allow them to resonate and lead you to ask, "What shall I do?" My response is, "Repent, and each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit!" (Acts 2:38).
What do you think? Let's share some words with one another. God, be with our dialogue and fill it with Your purpose, amen.
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
John 15:26-27: [Jesus is saying,] "But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness about. me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning."
What is truth? In an age of relativism, what is true is more, "What I perceive the truth to be." This means, before anything is considered true, it must be analyzed and scrutinized, and interpreted before it is considered true. The application of this is, words are not taken at face value. Stories of events are not trusted because the source of the stories is not considered "reliable."
This is why in many circles, and even in some "Christian" circles, people think that all of the Bible is not true facts, not true representations of actual historical accounts. The comment goes, "The Bible, you may think that it's true. I don't think so. So it isn't, for me."
The truth is, the Bible IS true. It is true because the Holy Spirit makes it true. The Holy Spirit informed, or inspired, men to write and made sure what they wrote is true and accurate. Why do I know, along with believe, that the Word of God is true. I TRUST GOD TO DO WHAT HE SAYS because He is God! The Word of God needs no validation, examination, or interpretation. It is what it is.
And the Holy Spirit testifies, or bears witness to, the Word of God who became flesh and made His dwelling among us. Jesus, the Son of God, true man totally and true God totally, walked the perfect life of obedience to the will and law of the Father because we cannot nor will not. Jesus was crucified, He died, and He was buried for our cleansing and forgiveness. Jesus rose from death and the grave so that we who believe will, and do, have eternal life with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Finally, when we believe and trust God, when know the story of God's great love for us, when we believe it, we will tell it. Jesus has been with us since the moment we were reborn of the water and the Spirit. We have the "Greatest Story Ever Told" to tell. Dear God, open us to believe, know, and tell Jesus' story, Amen!
Wednesday, May 9, 2018
John 17:15-17: [Jesus is saying, praying to the Father,] "I am not asking You to take them out of the world, but that You keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to the world just as I do not belong to the world. Set them apart in the truth; Your Word is truth.
What is sacred? Is a building sacred? We call the room where we worship and praise and hear from God "a Sanctuary." It is a "Holy Space." Is a person sacred? Is there something about people that makes them different? No and yes.
One person, in their own rights, is not any different from any other person. We all are born. We all live. We all die. We are ALL SINNERS. We all sin and fall short of what God expects and commands. It doesn't matter what socio-economic or ethnic backgrounds from which we come. We are all sinners. We are all in need of a savior.
And when we believe in God and what He did, we are set apart from everyone else. We are different. We are sacred. We are holy. Why is that?
It's because of Jesus and what He did. Jesus walked the perfect life of obedience. Only He did that because He is 100 percent man AND 100 percent GOD! And God sacrificed Himself in order to save His creation from sin and death with grace and life. When we put our faith, trust, and very existence into the hands of God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we are made holy. We are set apart. We are sacred, all because of JESUS and what HE DID on our behalf. He loves us that much.
This means that we will be under more scrutiny. We are picked on, picked out, and picked at. We are under the microscope. Is it fair? No. Is it reality. Yes. And Jesus' prayer is for God the Father to send God the Holy Spirit to keep us safe. And safe means to stay the course of "fear, love, and trust in God above all things." God, keep us on the path of faith in the face of persecution and fear, amen!
Monday, May 7, 2018
1st John 5:13: I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
What does God want for us? What's the "end game?" What is the point of believing? I think God answers all those questions for us in this single verse.
People seem to forget that point. We're so busy chasing our dreams and our goals for life and what we want to accomplish. In a sense, we're trying to write our names in the record books by piling on achievement after achievement. We are too busy and stressing ourselves out to the max. OR, we are so despondent and despairing because we have done nothing but fail. We are so hurt by life that we can't see anything but the pain and sorrow and trying to find ways to mask those pains and sorrows. What this means is, we are way too focused on the here and now and not enough about the hereafter.
God has always been focused on the now AND the hereafter. God is focused upon YOU joining Him there some day. Our here and now is not to be focused upon ourselves. It is to be focused upon God, what He has done for us. God saved us from our sins by means of what His Son, our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ did. Jesus sacrificed Himself so that we would be free from, as Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes, "chasing after the wind" of every human goal and desire. Through faith in Jesus and what He did, we see life on earth as a means to the beginning, the beginning of eternal life. Along with that, we see what Jesus did, not for Himself, but for others.
So what's the point? It's this. We believe in Jesus. Jesus gave forgiveness of sins and opened the way to everlasting life with Him. When we believe that, our attitude to the stuff here on earth changes. Our life becomes more centered on serving others for the sake of Jesus. Our goal is going to heaven and what we do is based upon that. God equip our faith, encourage our life, and lead us to engage the world with eternal life, Amen.
Wednesday, May 2, 2018
1st John 5:3-4: For this is the love of God: that we keep His commandments. And His commandments do not weigh us down, because everyone who has been fathered by God conquers the world.
My daddy is Melvin Herbert Hemsath. Most people called him, "Bill." I never did ask him why. He is with Jesus and his Father. I know that father. I also know my Father who resides in heaven where I will be one day. He is my "Abba," my "Daddy." From him comes all life. He, along with my brother, His Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, Abba put together this universe in all its' glory so that we can "see" Him by what He made. Abba made it all for us in which to live. Abba's "fingerprints" are all over what He made.
I see Abba everyday. Not only because of what He made. It's mostly because of His love for me. I know that I "disappoint" Abba every day. I can get selfish many times. I, because I get so caught up in the "stuff" of the day, don't think about Abba. I know that saddens me. And I'm sure that it saddens Him. Without Abba and Jesus in my life, my life has no real purpose. It has no real meaning.
At the same time, there is so much purpose and meaning to my life that I can barely scratch the surface. Why do I know this? I believe that Abba sent Jesus to me in order to save me from myself. I am lost without Him. And Jesus, my brother, my Savior, and my Lord, came to me and sacrificed Himself to save me. That is how much Abba loves me. And what can I do then to respond to His wonderful grace? I will follow His directions, or commandments. They are not a burden. I do them with great joy! Why? Because He first loved me. That is my motivation to obey His will. They are truly easy when you put your faith to it.
Do you want to know more? Are the Words of God moving you to be curious? If they are, then let's start a conversation. Make a comment. Ask a question. And let me introduce you to "Who's my daddy?" Holy Spirit, move minds and hearts and open them to begin to see You, Jesus, and Abba, Amen.
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.