Devotions by Pastor Joseph

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June 3, 2018 - John 8: 12

John 8: 12 “I AM the light of the world.” Down through the ages many have said that the discovery of fire is the greatest discovery of all. With fire we can cook food. With fire we can warm ourselves. With fire we can overcome the darkness. When Jesus said, “I am the light of the world,” he is saying that he is God and that he is come to enlighten the world as to who and what God is and wants. Jesus enlightened us to see God not as a “hanging judge,” but as a loving father that we could trust, protect, and take care of us. Jesus enlightened us so that we might see what God expects from us. “To love our neighbor as ourselves.” He was saying that the fear of the “darkness” of death will be overcome by His death and resurrection. Jesus is the light of the world for he has shown us the true heart of God and how to live as God’s children.  “The light shines in the darkness.” Amen.

May 27, 2018 - John 6: 35

John 6: 35 “I AM the bread of life.” In the gospel of John there are the famous, “I am” statements. What does Jesus mean when he said, “I am the bread of life.” The first two words are critical. Go back to Exodus 3 when God is asked by Moses, “What is your name?” and God replied, “I AM.” With Jesus, “I am” statement, first and foremost he is saying that he IS GOD. No ifs, ands, or buts. HE IS GOD. Bread has been called the staff of life. It has long been called one of, if not the basic food source of life. What Jesus is saying here quite simply is that HE IS GOD and that HE IS THE BASIC SOURCE OF ALL LIFE. If you have Christ, you have God and if you have God you have life, sustenance, and hope. God is the basic foundation of life. Without God there is no life, no sustenance, no hope. Through Christ we have access to all that God has to offer. Amen.

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.