Monday, October 19, 2020
Sunday, October 18, 2020
Psalm 34:1-2, 11, 22 - The Antiphon for the Introit for this coming Reformation Sunday is from Psalm 119:46: “I will speak of Your testimonies before Kings, [O Lord] and shall not be put to shame.”
On June 25, 1530, in the city of Augsburg, Germany, a group of Lutheran princes presented a confession of their faith, composed by the theologian Philip Melanchthon, Luther’s right-hand man–they presented their confession to Emperor Charles V. That document, called the Augsburg Confession, summarizes what our Lutheran churches believe, teach, and confess, on the basis of Holy Scripture.
To confess the faith is to say back to God what he has first revealed to us in his word. It is to declare to one another and before the whole world what we believe and teach on the basis of God’s word. To confess the faith is to declare the truth over against all errors. It is to speak fearlessly and courageously what we know to be true, whether that truth happens to be popular or not. Thus confessing the faith can be a very daring and even dangerous thing to do.
Yet we do not confess our faith in a vacuum nor do we speak alone. We are simply using the very words the Lord has given us. They are his words to give. We also speak what we have learned to be true in faith. St. Paul writing to young Timothy gives these encouraging words, “But as for you, continue in the things you have learned and firmly believed, since you know from whom you have learned them. From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” -2 Timothy 3:14-15 And in this same letter Paul also reminds his young student in the faith, “Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching you have heard from me, with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” – 2 Timothy 1:13
Using the explanation to the Apostles’ Creed you can confess and share your faith in a simple yet winsome way.
In whom do you believe? “I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord,”
What has He done? “who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil;”
How did He do this? “not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death,”
Why did He do this? “that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity.”
May the Lord grant us each the courage to live and confess the faith in a winsome way daily.
Prayer for Psalm 34: Lord, graciously hear us, for we seek you alone. Calm our bodies and minds with the peace which passes understanding, and make us radiate with joy; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
 Collect for Psalm 34, For All the Saints, A Prayer Book For and By the Church Vol. II © 1995 The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY
LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LECTIONALRY PREACHING WORKBOOK SERIES A © 1980 John Brokhoff CSS Publishing Lima, OH
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts "The Crucifixion" copyright © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Gerhard “Gary” Heckman
Baptized in Christ: February 21, 1926
Confirmed in Christ: March 17, 1940
With Christ in Peace: March 27, 2020
Committal: March 30, 2020
Celebration of His life in Christ October 18, 2020
“Blessed are they that die in the Lord”
Your gracious presence lead me;
Lord, lead Your helpless child;
Your Holy Spirit send me
That I my course may run.
O be my light, my lot,
My staff, my rick, my shield-
O God, forsake me not!
Lord, I am Yours forever.
That I may leave You never.
Grant me a blessed end
When my good fight is fought;
Help me in life and death –
O God, forsake me not!
It has not shattered hope,
It has not corroded faith,
It has not eaten away peace
Nor destroyed confidence
It has not shut out memories,
It has not silenced courage,
It has not invaded the soul,
Nor reduced eternal life.
It has not quenched the Spirit,
It cannot, has not,
Nor will not lessen the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ!
Almighty and everlasting God, the consolation of the sorrowful and the strength of the weak, may the prayers of those who in any tribulation or distress cry to You graciously come before You, so that in every situation they may recognize and receive Your gracious help, comfort, and peace through Jesus Christ Your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Lord Jesus, bless Thy Word, that we may trust in Thee.
It’s been seven months since Gary’s passing. Seven months since he took a walk - From one end of Christ’s kingdom to the other. From grace to glory. When he close his eyes to this world; only to behold Jesus face to face.
It’s been seven months of reflection. On the life of a man who has influenced us all. Gary Heckman was a tremendous inspiration to so many. A man of integrity and character. Gary and Dorothy were married for close to seventy-five years. His family was most important to him; his nuclear family as well as his Friedheim family.
So what do I recall? As I remember him today. I recall a man of strong convictions. I remember His quiet confidence in His Lord and Savior. I am reminded of the many conversations we have had over the years. And as his health began to decline; those talks, our discussions, became more serious and ever more intense. And personal.
His concerns did not focus on himself. He knew his destiny. What troubled him was the uncertainty of the future. He had the perspective of time. Ninety-four years to be exact. Yet, he let it all into the Lord’s waiting arms. He commended himself and all of your; his family and friends in the hands of Jesus.
I’m grateful for the chat he had with my mother-in-law. Over thirty years ago. Never forget to remain engaged. You never know how one brief encounter can change so much. Gary Heckman lived his faith daily. He was for us an inspiration – A sermon in shoes.
On the day of his confirmation, in this very room - March 17, 1940 - these words were spoken over Gary, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” – 1 John 5:4
The world is full of brokenness, hardship, and trouble. And all too often, so are we. We might pretend it isn't so. We might hide behind luxuries and confidences and self-justifications.
But there we are reminded just of the impact of sin - that the wages of sin is death, and that not all the planning, power, or hand sanitizer in the world can remove that. Pilate washed his hands but still had problems a plenty.
Gary clung to the promises of his Savior. Or was it not the other way around? It was Christ who held fast to Gary as the LORD spoke His promises from the Savior’s lips to Gary’s ear right into his heart. Those who acknowledge that they are without resources in and of themselves - the Lord lifts up, - while others who trust in themselves are eventually cast down. This is the definition of faith.
Consider what you have received from the LORD. By faith, you have been joined to Christ Jesus. And what has Jesus done for you? He has taken away your sin, destroyed death with His own death, ensured that you will rise to life again come the last day - but even more than that - He has given you His own righteousness and His own holiness, so that now you are one with Christ. God your heavenly Father is well pleased with you – for now, for all time, and even on to eternity beyond time itself you are His.
Satan will try to overwhelm you with anything that would distract you from Christ in this life. Maybe it's temptations, or wealth, anxieties or fears. But all of this is just his vain attempts to make you forget what Christ Jesus has won for you, what is yours by faith. You are forgiven in Christ, and in Christ you have life and salvation - that lasts well beyond over any triumphs we achieve in this life and over anything Satan can shovel at you.
So remember what is yours in Christ. It always is yours - for Christ is risen. And the life that you live, just as the life Gary lived, you live by faith.
Jesus said, “Everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.” John 16:33 which prompted John to write, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”1 1 John 1:8-10
And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. It sounds so simple yet it’s so profound - Those who are born of God believe that Jesus is the Christ. This gift was given to Gary in Baptism. In baptism Gary was clothed in Christ. In baptism Jesus gave Gary the gift of faith. And it is faith that clings to the very promises of our heavenly Father which are found in Jesus Christ.
With the word of God Baptism becomes a life-giving water, rich in grace, and a washing of the new birth in the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul says in Titus, chapter three: “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:5–8)
It is faith that that trusts. It is faith that saves.
The two blind men that followed Jesus and when He came into the house they came to Him and He asked them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They responded, "Yes." Jesus answered, "According to your faith be it done unto you." Matthew 9:29
To the centurion Jesus said, "As you have believed be it done unto you." Matthew 8:13
To the Syrophoenician woman Jesus said, "O woman, great is your faith, be it done to you even as you desire." Matthew 15:28
To the woman who touched the hem of His garment, He said, "Daughter be of good comfort, your faith has made you whole." Matthew 9:22
This moved Paul to write, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” - Ephesians 2:8-9
What shall be Gary Heckman’s legacy? It’s all summed up in that Word spoken over him 80 years ago: “And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”
Almighty and most merciful God, the protector of all who trust in You, strengthen our faith and give us courage to believe that in Your love You will rescue us from all adversities; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Luther’s Seal copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things
 Unknown source, copyright © Common Domain
 op. cit. Lutheran Service Book, Concordia
 In Gary Heckman’s lifetime there were sixteen US presidents and eleven pastors serving Zion Friedheim parish
 Collect for Proper 12 Series B, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St, Louis
18 October 2020
Coins of Commitment
O God, the protector of all who trust in you. Have mercy on us that with You as our ruler and guide we may so pass through things temporal that we lose not the things eternal;
Lord Jesus, bless Thy Word, that we might trust in Thee!
These words of Jesus were spoken at the temple in Jerusalem. It's Wednesday of Holy Week – Within twenty-four hours. Jesus will be arrested. This will instigate a speedy trial, conviction and execution. The wheels of Justice are about to commence.
But what justice? The LORD’s justice.
The Pharisees took counsel on how to trip Jesus up. Jesus had been destroying them. Now there is a time of grace. But not for long. The end will come.
There was NO inconsistency in Jesus' words. Still, they wanted to find fault with Him.
Pharisees began to plot against Jesus in response to His actions of healing on the Sabbath day. They drew the Herodians into their conspiracy.
These Pharisees. Send their disciples along with the Herodians to confront Jesus. Yes! Pharisees and Herodians in bed together.
These Herodians. Were considered “unclean.”
Pharisees and Herodians were mortal enemies. They did not like each other.
These Herodians. Were. And had been - sincerely friendly to Herod the Great, and to his dynasty. They would refer to Herod as, "The King of the Jews!"
They begin by complementing Him. Be aware! When they serve desert before dinner.
They flatter Jesus for His honesty and impartiality. Then they question Him politically. In relation to His attitude to paying Roman taxes. Jesus did appear to have impressed the Herodians with His reply: “They marveled (εθαυμασαν) at Him".
What do you think? We know you teach the way of God and truth. It doesn't matter to you nor does it concern you. You do not look into the face of men. Is it lawful to pay tribute, to Caesar?
And what were His parents doing? “And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David :) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.” – Luke 2:4-5 KJV
Is it permissible to participate in government?
Jesus knowing their evil asks them, "Why do you tempt me?" Remember the warning of the apostle James, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you fall into various temptations." (James 1:2)
Everyone experiences trials of various kinds. We enter our hardships as deposits into the checkbook of our life, not withdrawals. How we categorize that moment when assessing our life as a whole points us to Christ who strengthens us.
We may not be able to control our circumstances. But we can control how we think about our circumstances. When bad things happen, we can immediately say, "This is terrible. This is a no good, very bad day. My life is a wreck. All is going wrong. Why did this happen to me?"
Or we can say, "This is a bad thing, but I will get through it. I will learn and be stronger. I will call the growth and strength worth rejoicing over, even while it hurts."
The Psalmist teaches, “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I could learn Your statutes.” – Psalm 119:71
Trials may test our faith but they also produce endurance. And this endurance produces maturity which is being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Says St. Paul, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”- Romans 8:28-30
We ask the LORD, “Lord, help me. Help me see what benefits You can reap from this.” These words, “Lord help me,” are the words of a helpless child clinging to Savior fully in control.
Jesus is still in charge of the conversation. He controls the narrative.
"Show me the tribute'" Jesus responds. They displayed a denarius.
"Whose image portrait is on it?"
"Caesar!" they reply.
"Give to CAESAR what belongs to Caesar. And to GOD what belongs to God."
Jesus has no desire to get into a political debate. Especially when He knows their heart and their intent.
There are more pressing matters. It’s Holy Week! It's Wednesday! In 48 hours Jesus will be dead. The cross is coming into view. It can't be avoided. The cross compels Him.
Jesus is content for His followers to render loyalty to Caesar, who is an earthly King. Render to Caesar what he is due; taxes, revenue, respect.
But to Christ; the King of Kings, you owe Him your life.
“When they heard it they left Him.” Literally, they let it go.
And is this not the definition of forgiveness? Your sin, it's gone. Nailed to Jesus' cross. He bore your sin in His own body on the bloody cross of Calvary. That you might die to sin. And live to Him.
There at the cross we find that great exchange. Your flaws and failures. Given in exchange for Christ's perfection. He renders you to God...offering His own life as a sacrifice; as the payment for your sin.
As a follower of Jesus the Christ, the King of Kings, you owe Him everything.
As for Caesar, there is only an obligation. Try to evade paying taxes. You won't go far. Run afoul of law, and you must pay the consequences. Stopped by the man…you must pay the man!
For King Jesus, the debt you owe for your sin, the bill is marked, "Paid in full!"
Jesus gives you NOT religion. Religion says, "If you change first, you may join us." Jesus invites you. He simply says, "Come, and follow Me, and you'll be changed."
So, what's your obligation to Jesus?
"For all which it is my duty to thank and praise and serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true!”
Readability – 77%
Reading Level – 4.6
“The Crucifixion” Woodcut by Baron Julius
Schnoor von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known
especially for his book, The Book of Books in Pictures copyright © WELS used by
permission for personal and congregational use.
Friday, October 16, 2020
Psalm 145:1 -Our reading is the inspiration for tomorrow’s sermon hymn; “Before the Lord We Bow” an appropriate hymn for this week’s theme “Nations under God.” In this hymn we praise God who rules the world and is boundless in power and love. Truly we serve a God who governs the affairs of men who will judge the world with righteousness and equity. Having read these lessons here are a few points to ponder. Is it a true statement that the Lord has already judged the world? If so when and how? When Christ returns in glory what will be the sentence rendered?
This hymn written by Francis Scott Key, best known for “The Star-Spangled Banner” has made its way unto scores of hymnals. Stanza one reads as follows:
Before You, Lord, we bow,
Our God who reigns above
And rules the world below,
Boundless in pow’r and love.
Our thanks we bring
In joy and praise,
Our hearts we raise
To You, our King!
A prayer for our nation: Almighty God, You have given us this good land as our heritage. Grant that we remember Your generosity and constantly do Your will. Bless our land with honest industry, truthful education, and an honorable way of life. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil course of action. Grant that we, who came from many nations with many different languages, may become a united people. Support us in defending our liberties, and give those to whom we have entrusted the authority of government the spirit of wisdom, that there may be justice and peace in our land. When times are prosperous, may our hearts be thankful, and in troubled times do not let our trust in You fail;
 A Prayer for our Nation, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
The United States Flag copyright © Google Images
Thursday, October 15, 2020
Pharisees and Herodians come to him with the question whether taxes should be paid to the Roman government. The Pharisees would say, “No”; the Herodians would answer, “Yes.” If Jesus said one should not pay taxes, he could be arrested as a subversive and revolutionary. If Jesus said one should, he would be in trouble with the patriotic Jews who hated Roman dominance. Jesus recognized that the inquirers were hypocrites and that they came to find occasion to have him arrested. His answer caused his enemies to marvel at his answer: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
We have a tendency to put state and church into water-tight compartments. We separate church and state to the extent Christians often surrender the state to politicians and devote their time and talent to the church. A Christian needs to understand and act in the light of the fact that he is a citizen of two kingdoms, with responsibilities to each.
Jesus used a coin to answer the question of paying taxes to Rome. On the coin was the image of Caesar and his inscription as the supreme and divine being. What belongs to Caesar should be given to Caesar says Jesus. The coin of commitment to Caesar requires our payment of taxes, our service and obedience to the laws of justice.
The coin of commitment to Christ, the king of kings requires of tithes and offerings, our service and obedience to the law of love. As Jesus used this method of as a suffering servant to effect change so we too follow in His wake.
A prayer for guidance; Heavenly Father, in whom we live and move and have our being, we humbly pray You so to guide and govern us by Your Word and Spirit that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget You but remember that we are ever walking in Your sight; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 
 For Divine Guidance, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
With all your heart, copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things