I Can't Measure Up
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Job 9:30-35: If I wash myself with snow and cleanse my hands with lye, yet you will plunge me into a pit, and my own clothes will abhor me. For he is not a man, as I am, that I might answer him, that we should come to trial together. There is no arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both. Let him take his rod away from me, and let not dread of him terrify me. Then I would speak without fear of him, for I am not so in myself.
What's one of the messy things that happen in life? Job is going through it right now in our passage. We all do. Job is saying, "God, I can't measure up to your standards and will. What's the point? If i am going to be under Your judgment, then I am finished. I don't have anyone to intercede for me. If I did..."
We call it "despair, despondency, depression." We call it "hopelessness." Job, in his venting to God does not see hope, no matter what he does. The worst of it is, he doesn't see anyone on his radar that will step in for him.
Do you think that God is judgmental? Do you think that God, no matter what you do, is leaving you "hung out to dry?" Do you think that any relationship with God is arbitrary and hopeless? If you do, you aren't seeing God and you aren't seeing Jesus.
This is why Jesus came into our messy world. He took on our despair, despondency, depression, and hopelessness and nailed them to a cross. God the Father is not judgmental. He is just according to His will. We can't measure up no matter what we do. AND we have an arbiter, a go between, A SAVIOR. We have Jesus who took the judgment that we should upon Himself. As a man, Jesus was the sacrifice, the one who shed His blood and gave up His body so that we are forgiven. As God, Jesus is the one who can forgive, but DOES forgive.
So when you experience despair, despondency, depression, and hopelessness, remember: Jesus is your salvation and life. Holy Spirit, continue to reinforce that in us, Amen.
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Luke 2:6-7: And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Oh my, is it this time of year already? It feels like summer was only yesterday.
We are entering the preparation time. It is the time to prepare for the arrival of Jesus. That is why we have the season of Advent. This year, I want to focus on the real side of Christmas. We start with the stable. The place where the manger was where Jesus was laid after His birth.
And that belief is coming under scrutiny from experts and commentators. As I read through many of the more recent commentators, I sense a common thread. That is, if Joseph is of the lineage of David, he must have know about family there and stayed with them. Since there was no room in the "upper room," or "Inn" where guests stayed, Joseph and Mary stayed on the main floor which sometimes had a "manger" or feeding trough for animals they kept inside overnight. The reason for this interpretation versus the traditional one is, why would the Holy Family be born where animals were kept. It was not clean? It was not done according to ceremonial laws of cleanness.
And this is the reason why we need to remain with the traditional interpretation of the birth of Jesus and where. Jesus came to a very messy world full of sin, despair, grief, and pain. Jesus came into a world that was unclean. The King of kings and Lord of lords was not born in the finest of places or in situations that fit what we think should have happened. God's Son, Jesus, Y'shua, Emmanuel, and all the other names and titles associate with Jesus, came to save us from ourselves, from our sins, from our hurts along with our own stupidity. Jesus was born in our mess in order to save us from our mess. And THAT is the real story. Dear God, lead us to remember why You came to us, Amen.
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
1st Timothy 2:1-4: First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
It was pointed out to me a long time ago, no matter if I agreed with the current president's philosophies, politics, or personal life, it is my obligation as a citizen to not bad mouth the guy. It was my obligation as a Lutheran Christian citizen to speak about everyone, politics or otherwise, well of him and speak the truth in the kindest way. And today, Scripture is saying the exact same thing.
Back in the time of the early Church, what Paul was telling, first to Timothy as a pastor and then to the congregations he was serving, to pray for those who were persecuting them and threatening their homes, their livelihoods, even their lives. The government, at the leadership of the Emperor, was trying to get rid of the Church because he perceived it as a threat. God, through St. Paul was saying, pray for those who are trying to get rid of the Church who loves the Lord Jesus Christ and trying to bring salvation and life to the world. Why? So that the Church may live in peace and to allow the Church to live and spread the Gospel of Jesus without reprisal.
God through St. Paul is saying the same thing to us. You may not like the guy in leadership. You may completely disagree with his philosophies, politics, and personal life. However, God calls you to pray for him and gives thanks for him so that we can spread the Gospel message of salvation by means of Jesus and His life, death, resurrection, and ascension in peace. Let us have a great Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, be safe and full of joy with family and friends. God bless today, tomorrow, and every day in Your peace, Amen!
God Bless our Land
Monday, November 20, 2017
Deuteronomy 8:7-10: For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.
I have the honor and privilege to have been born here. My mother's father came over from Germany before WWI. My father's mother came here at the turn of the 20th century from Germany. My mother's great grandfather was an officer in the Civil War. My family has deep roots in this country along with new roots. And God brought us all here. God brought all of our families here from one place or another. Similar to God leading the nation of Israel into the promised land, God led families like mine here. For many of our descendants, we are living in a land "flowing with milk and honey." God has provided so much for us. They came here for the promise and hope of a new life.
And what do we do? We grumble because we don't get what we want. We stuff ourselves silly, watch football games, and don't give a second thought to who got us here in the first place. If we only knew half of what God does for us. For if we did know, then we wouldn't be so selfish. I recommend reading Deuteronomy 8:1-6. The nation of Israel was about to go to THE promised land. God through Moses reminded them all of what God did for them. Their shoes didn't wear out. Neither did their clothes. God fed them with quail and manna. God did it all for them. And God continues to lead you here in your "promised land."
So, how do we respond to all of this? How will we respond to God's providence? It's time, and it's always been time, to walk humbly with our God. To open our eyes more fully to all this land has to offer us and those who will come after us. It's time to engage in the world and share God's grace and love to those around us. For example, we have a food drive to support the Good Shepherd home in Huntsville. Drop off a can or two. Bring a few pairs of Christmas socks for those who need socks.
It's time to start to putting the providence of God into action. Dear God, lead us to walk humbly with You, Amen.
Thursday, November 16, 2017
1st Thessalonians 5:9-11: For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
What does God want for all people? What does God intend for us? And the biggest of the three is, What is my destiny?
In what location after I die will I end up? Some believe that after you die, that's it. You cease to exist. Some people think that you are either bound for heaven or bound for hell. It doesn't matter what you think or believe. Some believe that God has already established to location to which you will go long before you were born. It's like you had no "choice" in the matter.
So what do we believe is going to happen? First, we have an eternal destiny. ALL PEOPLE will live forever. The question is where, heaven or hell? ALL PEOPLE are subject to judgment, eternal punishment from God because of sin. ALL PEOPLE sin. ALL PEOPLE are headed for hell.
However, do not be afraid. God has also said that ALL PEOPLE have the opportunity for salvation because of who Jesus is and what Jesus did. Jesus, the Son of God and Son of Man, lived the perfect life on our behalf. Jesus died on the cross to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Jesus was buried to make the graves we lie in holy. And Jesus ROSE so that we will rise and be with Him and the Father and the Holy Spirit forever. This is the reality for those who believe.
What, you don't believe, or you're not sure? Contact me. Let's talk about your salvation from sins and your life eternal. Dear Holy Spirit, lead us to believe and have our life in You, Amen.
One Day ... BOOM
Monday, November 13, 2017
Zephaniah 1:14-16: The great day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter; the mighty man cries aloud there. A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet blast and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the lofty battlements.
One day, you're walking down the sidewalk, getting a little exercise. It's a sunny day until... the sky goes dark. You stop and watch everything unfold in front of you, above you, and all around you. Then the alarm sounds. It's the tornado warning signal. People are coming out of their houses and looking all around. You see the panic and fear on their faces. "What is going on?" you hear many ask. You're thinking the same thing. Is this it? Is this the day of the Lord? Do I need to start looking for Jesus coming from heaven in the sky?
We all wonder what the day when Jesus returns will look like. We all have thought about it, especially in today's tense atmosphere. Will we see nuclear missiles come from the sky? Will we experience more earthquakes, storms, and the like? We will see more of the moral decay of the world, like it was before the flood? Will we hear the trumpet call of God any day? It could happen any day.
Jesus promised that He will return one day. Jesus promised that when He does return, the world will end, the new heavens and earth will come, and all that we know will come to an end. The day will come at the Father's choosing. Because one day ... BOOM. It will come upon us just like a thief does in the night. And God gives to us signs and signals so that we will be aware and be ready for it, like today's passage.
So how are we ready? Believe in Jesus and His life, death, resurrection, and ascension. Prepare through faith your life to know that when all hell breaks loose here on earth, our lives will be heaven bound. Our task as Christians is to be out in the streets, in the world while the world is in turmoil. We have the opportunity and responsibility to be the people "Where the love of Christ lives," being equipped with faith, being encouraged by hope, and engaged with the love of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, walk the streets, get your exercise, and talk to the people around you about Jesus. Thank You Father, for faith in Jesus in order to serve You, Amen.
You're Not Going to Like It
Thursday, November 9, 2017
Amos 5:18: Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! Why would you have the day of the LORD?
Many people think, "God will take into account with me that I tried. I mean, I really tried to be good. I think God will accept my intentions to want to do right by Him. True, I hardly ever followed through on my intentions. But it's the thought that counts, right?"
So if you think like this above that the "day of the LORD" will be a relatively nice day, you're in for a rude awakening. If you thought that the "day of the LORD" will be uneventful, you've got another thing coming.
The day of the LORD will be this day that is dark, dank, painful, and down right ugly. You think that real life is not fun, what till you catch up the the day of the LORD.
The day of the LORD is a day that will not go we, especially for those who do not believe in Jesus and His saving grace. Read from our verse today through verse 24. It will not be pretty.
What will make the day of the LORD tolerable? It's easy. "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved."
Believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Man, saved you from your sins, the influence of Satan, and from hell. Jesus, because He was the only one who walked a perfect life in obedience to the will of Father. The ONLY ONE! You nor I can or will we. Jesus was the perfect life so that through His life we will have life. Believe that Jesus did that for you. Jesus also died on the cross to be the curse that comes from failing to obey the entire law of God perfectly. Jesus was cursed because He died on the cross. Jesus was the perfect and final sacrifice that God the Father needs in order to forgive you of your sins. When you believe in what Jesus did, you are forgiven. There is no more reason to say what you said earlier. Because of Jesus, you are forgiven, you are renewed, and you are washed clean by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus.
So when you believe in Jesus, the day of the LORD is no longer a day you dread. You look forward to it because Jesus gave you life. Holy Spirit, lead me to believe that Jesus saved me so that I will live with You, Jesus, and the Father, Amen.
The Means Justify the End
Thursday, November 2, 2017
Matthew 5:11-12: [Jesus is saying,] “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Yes, the title is backwards. Usually we hear "The ends justify the means." This sentence means, "Whatever I have to do in order to get the results I want, that is what I'll do." It is a method. It is not the best method.
Now we're reversing it all. We all go through struggles, trials, and tribulations. People pick on Christians. It happens more often than it does not. Some persecution is subtle. Some is "in your face." As Christians, we face trouble because of who we are. Mostly, we face trouble because of Jesus, in whom we believe. The struggles are because we love Jesus and we know and believe that Jesus loves us. And instead of saying, "Poor me, I don't like that fact that people don't like me because I believe in Jesus. So to stop it, to blend in with everyone else, I won't stand up and stand out with Jesus," we say, "I will continue to stand up and stand out with Jesus. I know my reward for faith in Jesus is heaven and life with Him forever. So I'll go through the suffering, the struggles, and the troubles. They'll only make my faith stronger and my hope in Christ more visible."
So stand up and stand out with Jesus. Dear God, give us strength to face the challenges as we focus on the reward of heaven, Amen.
Will Be Like Him
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
1st John 3:2-3: Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
Here's a shocker. This paragraph along with the rest of the letter, is addressed to the believers. The "beloved" are believers in God the Father, God the Son, Jesus, and God the Holy Spirit. The ones to whom the letter was written are called "God's children" because they believe that God loves them, that Jesus died to forgive their sins and rose to life to give them the gift of life now and forever, and that the Holy Spirit guides and directs their obedience to the will of God. And it is the beloved who will be like Him forever.
What about everyone else? Doesn't God love everyone? Didn't Jesus die for all people? Yes, God loves everyone. Yet everyone does not know God nor love Him. Yes, Jesus died for all people of all ages everywhere. Yet all people do not believe that Jesus lived, died, rose, and ascended. And as a wise man shared with me, "If your 'god' didn't die on the cross, avoid it, that ain't your God."
Only those who know and believe in God and believe that Jesus lived, died, rose, and ascended and that the Holy Spirit guides them through life by the Holy Bible will be like Jesus. Only those know this because they see Jesus as He is. And those who know and believe in Jesus' work, our God who died on the cross and rose to life to bring about life to all who will believe, and who ascended to prepare a place for all who believe, have their hope in Him and thereby be pure. Dear God, lead those who don't know You and Your love to here You and receive Your love. Also continue to guide and grow Your beloved so they see You more fully, 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.