Thursday, June 29, 2017
Matthew 28:18: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me."
Jesus said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." This means that Jesus is in charge. He is the boss. This also means that we are not. The sooner we begin to realize that the better. Why is that?
Once we surrender our will to Jesus and recognize that He is God and Lord, we will see more clearly that our will, our ways, our wants, etc. are a charade. They are an illusion that we created that Satan keeps spinning. It will move us to realize more fully that Jesus is in charge.
And Jesus is not a dictator. He is not autocratic. He is not tossed by whims back and forth. Human rulers over the millennia have been like the above. How do we know that Jesus isn't like human rulers? Three words tell us that. "And Jesus came..."
Jesus came to us. Jesus is not a god that sits far off. Jesus CAME to us. He walked among us. He taught us, healed us, raised us, and SAVED us. Jesus saved us from ourselves and gave His life as a ransom, or a payment, for ours. Jesus' death and resurrection is the reason why He has all the authority. Who else would do that for you? Who else would be willing to give up everything? Would you? Would any human leader be willing to be a sacrifice in order to lead you? No, they would not. The authority of Jesus is based in what He DID FOR US!
I know this all seems "far fetched." It's not. It's real. It's true. When you believe in what Jesus did, you will more fully realize He is in charge, He is the boss, and that "all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." God, lead us to live in this more fully, Amen!
You Are His Witnesses
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Isaiah 43:10: “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me."
We are witnesses to what and who we know. We talk about things, or people, we know. If we are experts, let's say in the area of health care, then we speak and witness to what we know. We act upon what we know and show ourselves to be experts. We do with confidence and with humility, trying not to be pompous or conceited. We share what we know confidently and with love.
If we do this in our careers, why is it so difficult to witness God to people? We know God. We believe in His saving grace. We trust Him to be our Savior, Redeemer, Father, Brother, and Guide. I have heard it said, "I am uncomfortable talking to someone about God because I don't think that I'm 'an expert.' I don't think I know enough."
Well here is a confidence boost for your faith in order to tell your fear to "take a hike." You know and believe enough to say, "Jesus loves me this I know. For the Bible tells me so." You are an expert on your own faith and trust in God to say that. You have enough faith based confidence with humility and love to witness to the God you know and love. And if someone asks you a question to which you don't have an answer, say, "I don't know. But I'll look it up for you and get back to you." Then go to your "text book." It's called the Bible. Everything you'll ever need to witness about God, is in the Book. God lead me to show what I know and seek what I need to know. Amen.
Turn to the Lord
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Acts 11:21: And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.
You're driving done I-45 headed to Houston. You catch out of the corner of your eye, a motorcycle and driver weaving in and out of traffic. He is even driving on the lines between the lanes. Your eyes go back to the cars in front of you and you start to pray, "Please God, protect this upcoming lunatic so that no one turns into him."
There are a lot of turns in our lives that we can take. Some turns are bad. One wrong turn of a driver of a car or the motorcyclist could be catastrophic. Some turns are good. We can turn away from danger, sometimes having to drive on the burm of the road to avoid a catastrophe. And we can't forget the greatest turn ever. It's the turn we saw the detour sign from the Holy Spirit and turned.
There are a lot of good people in the world today. There is this illusion that everything is good. There are people we know that are successful in life and have a gaping hole in their life. They try filling it with more success, more work, more activities, and the like. The sad part is, they've been missing the "turn here" signs that the Holy Spirit is standing up in front of them. The Holy Spirit is setting up "signs" and "road blocks" in order to get us to turn onto God's road of life. And it is only when we are on the road of life from God are those holes filled. They are filled with forgiveness, love from God, peace, and joy.
How do we get on this road? Look for the road signs from the Holy Spirit. Pick up His "map." We call it the Holy Bible. He'll steer you true. God, lead us to make the right turns to You, Amen.
Thursday, June 22, 2017
Luke 19:8: And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”
When God speaks, we respond. And the responses can be, 1) Yes, 2) No, and 3) I'm not sure. Zacchaeus' response was in the "Yes" group.
As we think about it, Zacchaeus was confronted by the presence of Jesus right there in his house. Jesus didn't have to say, "You're a sinner and you need to repent." The simple presence of Jesus "said" that. And Zacchaeus' response of action said, "Lord, I know that I have cheated people out of their hard earned money. I have stolen from people and lined my pockets with the overage. I know that is wrong and I repent of those sins and I will make restitution."
We respond in similar ways to the presence of Jesus in our house. Yes, Jesus is in our house. Our house is BOTH the place where we live AND the place where we worship. At the places where we live, we respond to the presence of Jesus there by loving our spouses and children and by doing the things that show God's love. We respond to the presence of Jesus in our place of worship through the words of confession and absolution, the prayer and praises, and the receiving of Jesus' body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins. God, lead us to respond more fully with YES!
Why He Came
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Luke 19:9-10: And Jesus said to him [Zacchaeus], “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Our focus about Zacchaeus is centered on the children's song about him. Zacchaeus was "a wee little man, a wee little man was he." Yes, Zacchaeus was shorter than most. Yes, he climb in a sycamore fig tree, "to see what he could see." The point of the episode with Jesus is that Zacchaeus became a believer in Jesus.
Why? How did it happen? Inquiring minds want to know. Why did Zacchaeus climb into the tree? We have no idea. Maybe he was curious? Answering this why question isn't important. What we DO know is that Jesus spent time with Zacchaeus that day.
How did Zacchaeus become a believer? That's easy to answer. It's a one word answer. JESUS! People, just like Zacchaeus became believers, when the presence and power of Jesus came into their lives. It's the same today. People become believers in Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit who brings Jesus through the Holy Bible to people. And who brings the Bible? We do!
That leads us to our final question. Why did Jesus pick Zacchaeus? That's easy too. The answer is the reason for the entire episode. Jesus sought out Zacchaeus in order to save him from sin and death and to bring grace and life to Zacchaeus.
And Jesus came for us, too. He sought us out. As a matter of fact, Jesus came in order to save all people of all times and in every place. Jesus came to seek out and save the lost. We, who believe in Jesus and know that we are found by Him, get up and out into the world around us in order to seek and to save. Dear God, use us to bring people into Your life, Amen!
Thursday, June 15, 2017
Romans 5:10-11: For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Jeff struggled with his father. He perceived that his father was distant. Jeff's father was there in the house. They shared the same space together. At the same time Jeff did not feel the bond with his father that Jeff wanted. When Jeff was old enough, he left home. Jeff felt, "I'm going to go where I can feel connected and accepted and where I can get all the emotional fulfillment I need.
Jeff Sr. was a man of few words. Senior's approach was, "You'll know that I love you by what I do for you." Senior would bend over backwards for Junior, as he called his son, and Jane the daughter. Junior didn't get it. Or at the very least, didn't recognize what Senior was doing. Until...
Jeff fell in with the wrong crowd. He got involved in drugs to fill this emotional hole in his life, as Jeff described it. After Senior found out, he did all that he could do to help his son. One time, Senior was in the courtroom when Jeff was arraigned for selling drugs. Senior posted bail for his son. As Senior was waiting for Jeff outside the jail, he prayed to God, "God be with me as I try to help my son." Jeff came out and saw his dad. They looked at each for what seemed like an eternity. Senior made the first move toward his son, came to him and said, "I know that I am the father you want. But I am here for you and..." Jeff cut him off and said, "Dad, thank you. You are here and I need you now more than ever."
From that moment on, father and son were reconciled, brought back together into strong relationship. Junior was saved by Senior by what Senior did. Junior's life was balanced and reconciled to Senior's. Father God, continue to remind us that we are reconciled to You through Jesus. Amen.
The Greatest Miracle
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Romans 5:15: But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.
There were many miracles that Jesus did while on earth. He changed water into wine, healed people of all kinds of diseases, and even raised people back to life. At the same time, the greatest miracle is what God through St. Paul describes above. The greatest miracle is His death in order to forgive us of our sins and rise to life to bring a brand new life to us to live in now as well as forever.
We are lost and judged guilty of sins by God. The judgment is separation from God forever. The miracle is God's mercy and justice and grace. For Jesus, the sinless Son of God took on our sins and sinfulness and all our sins were nailed to Him. There, they died with Him. The miracle is that God allowed Himself to die. AND
God brought Himself back to life. God the Father raised God the Son, Jesus, to life. Through the miracle of resurrection, we have a grace, love, and mercy filled life to live right now AND the same life to live with Him forever. This is the greatest miracle.
What it means to us is this. We live with this miracle every day. We are the object of His miracle. Jesus' miracle brings us forgiveness from sin, life from death, and mercy from judgment. God, thank You SO much for this life.
Doing For Others
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Romans 5:6-8: For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Father's Day is coming up. It is the day that we set aside to honor our fathers for all the good that they do for us.
And that leads me to a question. What will, or did, your dad do for you? Some dads, especially in abusive environments are simply evil. That means that they have no connection to God and His grace and love. And they have no love for their children. Some dads are not overly demonstrative with affection. In my case, my dad was not affectionately demonstrative. At the same time my dad would give to us children the shirt off his back. He would do anything and everything for us. Then we have dads who are both affectionately demonstrative and will give their children the shirt off their backs. In all of the above choices, is their one who would give the ultimate sacrifice of life for the benefit of life?
As God writes through St. Paul, it's rare. There are those select dads who have given their lives for the sake of their families' lives. It does happen. Yet, do you know what's even greater? Our heavenly dad giving up EVERYTHING for His children. Our Father gave up His Son, Jesus our Savior and brother, so that we will be saved from ourselves. Jesus died for stubborn, rebellious, and obstinate children. Jesus died for us who would rather focus on stuff that we want and not give God a moment's notice. Jesus died for sinners, like you and me, and gave the ultimate sacrifice to save us from sin, death, hell, and the influence of Satan. Then Jesus rose and gave to us a brand new life both now and forever so that we live as forgiven and redeemed people of God. This is what our heavenly Father did for us. Thank You, Father, for Jesus' sacrifice and forgiveness. And all God's children say...
It Was All Good
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Genesis 1:31: And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Sometimes when people ask me, "How you doin'?" I respond, "It's all good." The day is going well, good stuff is happening, and the like. And sometimes, when I reply, "It's all good." it really isn't. Maybe I'd be having a bad day. Maybe a member of the congregation is having a bad day and I find out about it. The person who is asking, "How you doing?" doesn't need to know all that. Does that sound familiar?
Now looking at our text, when God is saying, "It was very good." He means it. It was all good. The creation of God was very good. UNTIL...
Adam and Eve sinned. They disobeyed God's will. And when they did, the whole good and wonderful and perfect creation was ruined. St. Paul tells us that creation is groaning and hurting and suffering as a result of the sin. That is why we have earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters. So the question is, "Will the creation ever get back to the way it was?" The answer is, "Not until the day Jesus returns."
When Jesus returns then God will bring together a new heaven and a new earth. The old sinful will pass away, the new recreated home for us will come. And we will live with Jesus forever.
So in the mean time, we live by faith, by grace, and love from God. We help people affected by natural disasters with the love of Jesus. We live in the forgiveness of sins given to us by Jesus. Dear God, lead us to live in an hurting world and bring the grace and mercy of Jesus for the sake of all.
The Image of God
Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Genesis 1:27: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.
Adam and Eve, when God created them, had the image of God place in them. God was their Father. They inherited His image. His image is an intimate relationship with God. They were of one heart and mind. They knew each other.
Sin corrupted the connection. Sin, their disobedience to God's one directive, separated mankind from the will of God. And the following generations were conceived in the image of THEIR father, their human father. There was no more image, no more intimacy with God, and they weren't of one heart and mind with God anymore. Genesis 5:1ff tells us that. Genesis 6:5ff tells us that the human race was wholly separated from God.
God sent the Son, who we know as Jesus of Nazareth, into His fallen and broken creation in order to lead people to be "born again" of water and the Spirit (John 3:3-8). Through faith in Jesus, being reborn through Holy Baptism and the Word of God, the image of God, the relationship, the intimacy, and being of one heart and mind is put into the life of the believers.
Comes the Holy Spirit, the helper who Jesus said was coming, who teaches us and reminds us of everything Jesus taught, who is full of energy, power, strength, and grace who leads the people of God who are born again, renewed, and recreated to live their lives for their Father, their heavenly Father. God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thank You for who You are and what You've done.
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.