Devotions by Pastor Joseph

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May 20, 2018 - Exodus 3: 13 – 14

Exodus 3: 13 – 14 If “they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I tell them? God said to Moses, ‘Tell them I AM sent you." We are all familiar with the story of the burning bush. Moses is confronted by God and commanded to go to Egypt and ask Pharaoh to free the Israelites from bondage. Moses comes up with several excuses why he is not the man for the job and God dismisses each one them. When Moses finally relents he asks, “By the way, What is your name?” The reply is simple, “I AM.” But what does that name mean. Someone wrote, “When you live in the past with its mistakes and regrets, life is hard. I Am not there. My name is not I Was. When you live in the future with its worries and fears it is hard. I am not there. My name is not I Will. When you live in this moment it is not hard, I am here. My name is I AM. “I AM” is a promise that no matter what we face at any particular moment, forr good or ill, God is there and He will get us through it. Amen

April 29, 2018 - Mark 3: 28-29

Mark 3: 28-29  “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Spirit can never have forgiveness.”   Over the years I have been asked if committing suicide is the unforgivable sin.  When I say, “No,” they then ask if there is an unforgivable sin.  Jesus says there is and that sin is to reject the Holy Spirit.  Why would Jesus say that.  Well, let’s turn to the Apostles’ Creed, third part:  “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.”   What Jesus is saying is quite simply this; the work of the Spirit is to bring people together in the church, forgive sins, raise the dead to life, and give eternal life.  To reject the Spirit means you wont be a part of the church where you hear the Word of God and receive the Sacraments, you won’t receive forgiveness, you won’t be raised from the dead, and you will not have eternal life.  To reject the Spirit who creates faith in our hearts is to reject forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life.  That means quite simply there is no hope for you.    

April 22, 2018 - Colossians 2:2

Colossians 2: 2  “I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge, of God’s mystery, that is, Jesus Christ himself.”  Some pastors promise that if you believe in Jesus you will have the perfect spouse.  Some promise that you will the perfect family.  Some promise that if you believe in Jesus Christ you will receive earthly riches.  They are quick to use partial verses to get their message across so they can “pack in the paying customers.”   The above verse is a perfect example.  The con man or woman, I mean preacher, will tell you here’s what God wants for you, “I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, that they may have all the riches.”  God promises that if you believe he will encourage your heart and then by loving one another you will receive riches.  Instead of finishing the verse and declaring that “riches” refer to understanding and believing in God’s mystery, which is Jesus Christ.  The con man, I mean preacher, who knows that the average person knows little about what the Word of God, uses the partial Word to promises earthly riches.  In so doing the con man, I mean preacher,” leads his listeners down the road to a dead end.   In Ephesians 6, Paul says we should arm ourselves with the Word of God.  If we do that, we will never be fooled.   We need to beware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing. 

April 15, 2018 - Mark 3:14

Mark 3: 14  “And Jesus appointed twelve, whom he also named Apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message.”   In the old gangster movies when the police would start questioning one of the “bad guys”  the “bad guy” would respond, “You need to talk to my mouthpiece.”  What the bad guy meant was that you need to talk to my attorney.  The attorney was called the “mouthpiece” because it was understood when he opened his mouth, his client was speaking through his attorney.  To talk to the attorney was the same as talking to the “bad guy.”  To borrow from those old gangster movies the Apostles’ were Jesus’ “mouthpieces.”  Later in Mark 13, Jesus tells the Apostles, “ you will be brought before kings and governors, but don’t worry the Holy Spirit will tell you what to say.  Later before Jesus returned to his Father in heaven he told the Apostles to go to the ends of the earth to baptize and teach what he commanded them.  The problem in too many churches today is that the preacher preaches what the people want to hear instead of what they need to hear.  The preacher will preach from what he reads on the internet instead of what the Word of God says.  The preacher will preach a message that says if you believe in Jesus, you will be healthy and wealthy and life will be just bowl of cherries.  The Apostles and today’s preachers are charged with preaching the whole word of God, not just the parts that will pack the pews and fill the offering plates.  What is the message you hear each Sunday?

April 8, 2018 - Colossians 1:18

In Colossians 1: 18 we read, “Christ is the head of the body.”  The average person’s brain weighs three pounds.  Not much when compared to the rest of the body, but think of the work it does.  It controls 650 muscles in the human body and 100 billion nerve cells.  The brain controls just about every aspect of the human body.  When Paul says that Jesus is the head he is saying that Jesus is in control of the body.  For Paul, the body is all he faithful.  Jesus, as the head, makes the rest of the body function.  When we forgive, it is because Jesus enabled us to forgive.  When we love, it is because Jesus enabled us to love.  When we serve. it is Jesus enabled us to serve.  If the brain is blocked from sending transmissions to the rest of the body, the body will not function.  The problem is far too often we purposely block the transmissions from the head (Jesus) to the rest of the body, (the faithful people.)  When brain transmissions are blocked, the body cannot function the way it was created to do.   When we purposely absent ourselves from reading the Word of God, when we purposely absent ourselves from attending church weekly, we have stopped the brain from making the body function.   When that happens, the rest of the body dies.  We often wonder why things aren’t going quite right in our lives.  Maybe it’s because we have stopped letting the brain reach the rest of the body.

 

March 25, 2018 - Isaiah 53: 4

“Surely he has borne our infirmities  and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken,   struck down by God, and afflicted.” 
Today marks the beginning of Holy Week.  The week starts with Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday.  Palm Sunday refers to the glory of riding in as a conquering hero. Passion Sunday reminds us of the pain, the suffering and the death that Jesus must go through in order to win our freedom.  Most of us wonder, “Why does he have to die?  Why doesn’t he just wipe out all evil?”  Because if he did, he would have to wipe us out.  Yes, we too would be wiped out because we have been conceived in sin and have been sinful since the day of our births.  Yes, the price for evil must be paid.  But not with our suffering, not our blood, not our bodies.  But through the body and blood of Jesus Christ.  He has borne our infirmities, carried our diseases which manifest themselves in our sinful thoughts, words, and deeds.  You cannot get to the glory of the winner’s circle until you have gone through the suffering of the race.   

March 18, 2018 - Isaiah 52: 13

“See, my servant shall prosper;   he shall be exalted and lifted up,   and shall be very high.”  
There are two meanings in these words.  In John 12 Jesus said, “…when I am lifted up I will draw all men to myself.”  John tells us that this was to indicate what kind of death Jesus would endure.  He would be lifted up on the cross and people would come to him because of his sacrificial love.  It also refers to Jesus’ ascension into heaven.  Jesus’ ascension into heaven is important because he now sits at the right hand of God the Father.  In Romans, Paul says, that Jesus intercedes for us.  He is our defender, he pleads our case and asks God to forgive us, not because of who we are or what we have done, but because of who Jesus is and what he has done for us.  And the Father, in His mercy, pardon’s us for the sake of the Son.

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