No Other Gospel
Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Galatians 1:10-11: For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me in not man's gospel.
One thing that you can say about Paul, the servant of God, is that he doesn't mince words. Paul is "all in for God." It's either one or the other. There is no blending. There is no "both/and" when it comes to whose approval you want.
Are you for Yourself?
Do you do things that will please yourself or others? Of course you do. You wouldn't be human if you didn't.
Do you want to please other people? Do you want to "get along" with others? Again, of course you do. You wouldn't be human if you didn't.
And, if that were the case, you wouldn't be pleasing God. You wouldn't be focused on God's will for your life. You wouldn't have a desire to glorify God with your life.
Are you for God?
Do you do things that you know honor God? Do you follow His ways above the ways of people? Do you serve God with your life? When you are, you are not living your life satisfying the ways of people.
You Can't Be Both:
As Christians, we realize that we there are two distinct "persons" inside us. The one "person" focuses on being human. That means being focused on things that "make me happy." We are a self gratifying race.
The other "person" is about living our lives in accordance with the grace of God and honoring Him in all that we do. Whatever we do, we do in service to God so that people see Him in our lives. And it is the second "person" who realizes that we can't be both.
Which Way Do We Go?
Every Christian is in this situation. And what helps us in this situation is the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. For it is in the Word of God that we realize that we are sinners, as early as conception. Our lives are focused on "evil all the time." The Word of God also tells us that we are saved from ourselves by means of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. We are promised an eternal life with Him through His ascension. The Holy Spirit through His Word who teaches us, shares with us, and convicts us of sin and then leads us to the Cross of Jesus Christ.
So follow the lead of the Spirit to follow the ways of God more fully. When you follow your humans ways, realize it, confess it, and repent of it. Then trust God more fully and live in His grace.
And when people see you living an "alternative life" of Grace and mercy from Christ, they will want to know why. Then you can share your life with God. You can say, "I follow Christ."
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Luke 2:10: And the angel said to them [the shepherds], "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people."
What is fear?
That is a great question. Fear is something that we experience. It is somewhat hard to define. I have used many times the phrase, "Quaking in your boots" to describe what fear is.
Fear has to do with loss. We're afraid because we lost our favorite pen. That may sound silly, yet it is true. There is a level of anxiety when we had it one moment and not the next.
If that's "silly," what about the fear we experience when we can't find our phone. I know someone who was very afraid she lost her phone. Why? Because she lost all the pictures on it. Her experiences were on that phone. She was afraid that she lost a part of her life.
Fear comes in many forms. That is why the words from the angel are so wonderful.
Stop Being Afraid:
What is the angel saying to the shepherds? "Stop being afraid at the sight of my presence and all you think what might happen. Settle your fear and focus so that you will hear what I have to tell you."
The angel is trying to help the shepherds focus upon what was going to happen next. He had to get them past their fear. And when they were past their fear, the shepherds heard the message of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem.
The angel's message is the same for us. "Stop being afraid of losing something in life. Stop being afraid of what you don't have. Stop being afraid so that I can help you focus on what you have in your life. Stop worrying about what you don't have. I want to tell you what you DO have."
The Message of Jesus:
And what we do have is Jesus and His life for us. We have Jesus and His life for us. We have Jesus' calming heart and grace with the faith and knowledge that He has taken away our sins, our fears, our worries, and replaced them with comfort, peace, joy, and grace.
And when we have Jesus, we have clarity and focus that will set aside fear and move past it. When we have Jesus, we can see the life that we have and set our minds and hearts to move forward past the loss.
What All We Have
Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Deuteronomy 8:7-9: [Moses is saying to the Israelites,] "For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good, 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."
The Promise of Providence:
Think about this for a moment. Here in our passage is Moses is telling the people of God, who God cared for for forty years as they meandered through the dessert, that they were about to cross over the Jordan River into the land God promised them.
Look at what is waiting for them. Everything that they would ever need is in this land. Food, water, and oil are available. No one will go hungry. You will have all that you need. It is there for them to receive after they cross the river.
God was providing for everyone all that they needed.
Where is Everything?:
"So, if God provides all that we have for everyone, why is there hunger? Why is there famine and drought? Why is there fire and destruction? Why do people go without while many stuff themselves silly? Where is God's providence?"
The answer to those questions, along with a whole lot more, will not come by blaming God for everything. God placed man to manage all of the resources of His bountiful creation. And man is selfish. Man keeps for himself. Sharing is not in mans' vocabulary. Do not blame God for the "lack of resources." Put the responsibility upon inequality of the distribution where it belongs. It belongs on us. Mankind, because mankind is sinful, will not share.
Everything is Here: Share It:
We have everything that we need. Look around us. Acre upon acre of crops are growing, animals are being raised for food, technology is available to provide for the needs of the world ten times over if we thought about it.
Think about it. So let us confess our sins of greed and self centeredness and focus on God and what He gave. God the Father, sent God the Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to save it from itself and the influence of Satan. Believe in Jesus and His sacrifice of Himself to save you. Jesus gave up everything in order to save people focused on themselves. And when you believe, God who is faithful and just, will forgive you of your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.
NOW... Look at all the bounty God gave to you. He gave to you house, home, land, and animals. He gave to you a job, a career, a family. Look at what He made available to you in order to share it. There is so much. Share it. God gave it all to you to use for others. So let me know how you used what God gave you to assist others.
Jesus Christ is King
Monday, November 19, 2018
Daniel 7:13-14: [Daniel is saying,] "I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and He came to the Ancient of Day and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, and all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him; His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away. And His kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
The End is Coming:
"Nothing lasts forever." It's a phrase that has been used over the decades to describe how finite things are. Yet we do not use the phrase to describe the end of days. I have no idea why people think that this universe is ongoing.
It isn't. Maybe it's because of the perception that the universe is billions of years old and that it will last for at least another billion. Both are false assumptions. Everything that we know and have has a finite end.
Why? It's because of sin. Sin entered the world as a result of Adam and Eve's disobedience to the will of God. God made it perfect. Man messed that up. Creation now has a "shelf life." And so do we. Sin brings death. Sin is the reason that we do not live forever, the way we are.
There is an eternity of life. Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Man, came and gave up His life in order to forgive the sins of people. Jesus, on the third day after His crucifixion, rose out of the grave to promise life today to live in His kingdom in this world AND His kingdom forever.
For those who do not believe in what Jesus did, it is an eternal death. We also call it hell. For those who do believe in what Jesus did, it is an eternal life. We all call it heaven.
People are at an intersection of life. When you do not believe in the work and life of Jesus, Christ the King, the one who sits at the right hand side of the Ancient of Days, your eternal life will be eternal hell. When you do believe int the work and life of Jesus, Christ the King, the one who sits at the right hand side of the Ancient of Days, you will live in an eternal kingdom of love and life and grace and be with Jesus forever.
Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, and you will be saved and have eternal life.
Wait for It
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Mark 13:3-8: And as He [Jesus] sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked Him privately, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?" And Jesus began to say to them, "See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, 'I am he!' and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains."
The Question to end all Questions:
When will the end come? Every person thinks about this at one time or another. It makes no difference whether it's the end of the world or the end of the life. And Christians, more than any other group, focus on the end because that is when Jesus will return. Then eternity will begin. Some to eternal separation from God. Some to eternal life with God.
So the question is a valid question. The fact that Peter, Andrew, James, and John were asking Jesus about it, means something. And to summarize Jesus' answer, we can say, "Wait for it."
Wait For It:
Jesus' answer didn't leave us blind. And it wasn't very specific either. At the same, in Jesus' answer, we find clues and warnings.
One clue is, there will be natural disasters before the end happens. Mark records Jesus talking about earthquakes and famines. You could include fires, like in California. Destructive as they are to land, home, and people, it's not the end, yet.
A second clue is, wars, rumors of wars, nations and kingdoms at war with each other. One could conclude that nations warring against themselves could be a sign. Does that not sound familiar? People is power and authority wanting someone else's power and authority. Painful to experience and watch are these wars, it's not the end, yet.
The third clue, and for Christians this is the most devastating, false Christs popping up and leading people away from the true Christ. People are being led away from Jesus by false prophets all the time. And saddening and scary that is for Christians, it's not the end, yet.
What Do We Do?
We stay strong in the Lord. We stay grounded firmly on Jesus, the rock of our Salvation. We stay connected to the Vine of Life. We remain in the Word of God that gives us strength and grace. Because we remain in the Word, we experience more fully His grace and forgiveness of sins along with new life.
So with that new life we weather storms, fires, earthquakes, famines, and the like. We deal with knowing that people will not show love to others and that there is hatred and fear. With that new life founded upon God's Word, we see the truth more clearly so that we can expose the lie.
And know this, the end is coming. What we see is "just the beginning." Hang in there.
Life With God
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Hebrews 10:19-22: Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh, and since we have a great High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance fo faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
I hope that you won't skip over reading the blog today because you sense that the title is a little, "cheesy." It seems to simple. It sounds a bit generic.
That is true. The title isn't eye catching. At the same time, it describes very well the content of the passage. We have life with God because of Jesus. It's simple. Its' easy. Why do we need to make it complex?
A Simple Life:
There is one key phrase in our passage that keeps this very simple. It is, "by the blood of Jesus." Our life with God is bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus. It's simple. We are sinners. It's in our nature. We can talk about "choices" and "free will" all we want. It makes the simple complex. The simplicity is, that no matter what "choices" we make and no matter how "free" our will is, we will never be able to escape the bondage to our nature. Our nature is sinful, meaning, "against God."
And the simple thing is, it is "by the blood of Jesus" that we are "with God." God, through your faith and trust in Jesus and what He did, forgave you of your sins and sinful nature and cleansed your life so that you are "free and clear" to enter into the Holy place, being in the presence of God.
It is that simple.
Do you want to have a fuller life with God? Do you want a life with God? So here is how it's done.
Don't complicate it. Jesus died to forgive you. Jesus' blood shed is the means by which you are saved. There is nothing more simple than that. Believe. Trust God. And when you do, you will have a life with God.
Do You Want to Go Deeper?
Let's go deeper. Ask me your questions. Send me you comments. Let's go deeper into the simple Life with God.
The Peace of God
November 7, 2018
Philippians 4:2-7: I appeal to Euodia and to Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I say also to you, true companion, help them. They have struggled together in the gospel ministry along with me and Clement and my other coworkers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice! Let everyone see your gentleness. The Lord is near! Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
The Day is Over:
Yes Election Day is over. Some people won. Some people lost. Personally, I am glad that Election Day is behind us because the negative and sometimes brutal messages are over.
Now What Do We Do?
I suggest that we listen to the Word of God. Euodia and Syntyche are fighting. About what, we don't know. What we do know is, God through St. Paul is telling them to agree "in the Lord." They need to come together. Yet they're "waging a war" with each other. So Paul is calling them to come together "to agree in the Lord."
"Agree in the Lord:"
One way of applying this text is to agree in what the Lord, God the Father, God the Son Jesus, and God the Holy Spirit, says.
And what does God say? God says that we are ALL SINNERS. This must be first. Nobody is perfect Not one view point is all right AND not one viewpoint is all wrong. We are sinners. We ALL miss the mark. The other thing that we must agree on is that Jesus Christ forgives our sins and cleanses us from ALL SIN and unrighteousness. Jesus did that through His death on the cross and resurrection from the grave.
So we need a true companion to point out the truth. We need someone, a pastor, teacher, and the like, to lead us toward what is the agreement in the Lord. What does God want for our Church, our Community, our State, and our Country?
In order for that to happen, serious dialogue must take place. That means heartfelt Christian based discussion with the purpose and intent to "agree in the Lord." Will it be easy? Maybe. Yet it needs to happen.
And when it does and agreement is found...
"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice! Let everyone see your gentleness."
And when agreement in the Lord is found, rejoicing takes place and all animosity, anxiety, fear, and anger go away. And then...
Peace of God:
We will experience the peace that comes from God. Not a "cessation of hostilities." We will experience a true peace that comes from agreement in the Lord, His salvation in Jesus Christ, and His love and mercy. I can't understand, reason, or have knowledge about the peace of God. That peace of God comes through faith and trust in God and His salvation. At the same time, I know when it is happening. Peace from God is an experience.
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.