Monday, October 19, 2020

Morning Prayer - Reading 37 - Gideon

Judges 6-7 
(Selected Verses)

6 The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord gave them into the hand of Midian seven years. 6 And Israel was brought very low because of Midian. And the people of Israel cried out for help to the Lord.

12 And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” 13 And Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.14 And the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?

2 The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ 3 Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead.’” Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained.

4 And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people are still too many. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ shall go with you, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ shall not go.” 5 So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “Every one who laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set by himself. Likewise, every one who kneels down to drink.6 And the number of those who lapped, putting their hands to their mouths, was 300 men, but all the rest of the people knelt down to drink water. 7 And the Lord said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.” 8 So the people took provisions in their hands, and their trumpets. And he sent all the rest of Israel every man to his tent, but retained the 300 men. And the camp of Midian was below him in the valley.

16 And he divided the 300 men into three companies and put trumpets into the hands of all of them and empty jars, with torches inside the jars. 17 And he said to them, “Look at me, and do likewise. When I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do. 18 When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then blow the trumpets also on every side of all the camp and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’”

19 So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outskirts of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when they had just set the watch. And they blew the trumpets and smashed the jars that were in their hands. 20 Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the jars. They held in their left hands the torches, and in their right hands the trumpets to blow. And they cried out, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!21 Every man stood in his place around the camp, and all the army ran. They cried out and fled. 22 When they blew the 300 trumpets, the Lord set every man's sword against his comrade and against all the army. And the army fled...

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Illustration from a woodcut by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known especially for his book, Das Buch der Bücher in Bilden (The Book of Books in Pictures). © WELS used by permission for personal and congregational use. 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

October 19 - Monday prior to Reformation


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.[1]

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.[2]







[2] 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

Reformation (Observed)

Reformation Observed

Revelation 14:6–7
Psalm 46
Romans 3:19–28
John 8:31–36 or Matthew 11:12–19

The Son of God Has Set Us Free from Sin and Death by His Grace

Wisdom is justified by her deeds” (Matthew 11:19), and the true Wisdom of God, Christ Jesus, the incarnate Son, has justified us by His deeds. He prepares His way by the preaching of repentance, but He has suffered the violence of the Law and voluntarily handed Himself over to violent men, that we might eat and drink with Him in His Kingdom and “remain in the house forever” (John 8:35). He is “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matthew 11:18–19), and He has rescued us by His grace from the slavery of sin and death.

By the proclamation of His eternal Gospel “to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people” (Revelation 14:6), “the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law” (Romans 3:21), “that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). And by the hearing of that Gospel of Christ Jesus, “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Romans 3:25), “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31–32).

Collect for Reformation SundayAlmighty and gracious Lord, pour out Your Holy Spirit on Your faithful people. Keep us steadfast in Your grace and truth, protect and deliver us in times of temptation, defend us against all enemies, and grant to Your Church Your saving peace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

"O God, Your infinite love restores to the right way those who err, seeks the scattered, and preserves those whom You have gathered. Of Your tender mercy pour out on Your faithful people the grace of unity that, all schisms being ended, Your flock may be gathered to the true Shepherd of Your Church and may serve You in all faithfulness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen"

Matthew 11:12-19

Context John is in prison, world attacking the kingdom of the heavens,

Matthew 11:12
ἀπὸ δὲ τῶν ἡμερῶν Ἰωάννου τοῦ βαπτιστοῦ ἕως ἄρτι ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν βιάζεται, καὶ βιασταὶ ἁρπάζουσιν αὐτήν.
From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence,[a] and the violent take it by force. 
a Or has been coming violently
From the time of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of the heavens suffered violence.” The kingdom - Makes its way advancing with violent force. And violent men have seized it. How does it come. Not by what we think, through violence done to him. Forcibly treated can be taken middle or passive. The kingdom suffers violence. It has been violently attacked by violent men, the flesh, and Satan.

Matthew 11:13
πάντες γὰρ οἱ προφῆται καὶ ὁ νόμος ἕως Ἰωάννου ἐπροφήτευσαν·
For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 

“For all the prophets and the Law prophecies until John.”
Matthew 11:14
καὶ εἰ θέλετε δέξασθαι, αὐτός ἐστιν Ἠλίας ὁ μέλλων ἔρχεσθαι. 
and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 
And if you want to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.”
When you hear John you hear all of the prophets, it comes to its finger John and the head Christ.
Matthew 11:15
ὁ ἔχων [a]ὦτα ἀκουέτω.
He who has ears to hear,[b] let him hear.
b. Some manuscripts omit to hear
He who has ears to hear let him hear.”
Hear what he just said, listen to what he will say. Avoid the theology of glory. NOT BY DOING BUT BY RECEIVING this is a passive thing.
How does the Christian suffer today?  We still suffer violence by the big three although not seen.
Matthew 11:16
Τίνι δὲ ὁμοιώσω τὴν γενεὰν ταύτην; ὁμοία ἐστὶν παιδίοις [b]καθημένοις ἐν ταῖς ἀγοραῖς ἃ προσφωνοῦντα τοῖς ἑτέροις 
“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,

To what will I liken this generation? It is like two small children.”

Matthew 11:17
[c]λέγουσιν· Ηὐλήσαμεν ὑμῖν καὶ οὐκ ὠρχήσασθε· [d]ἐθρηνήσαμεν καὶ οὐκ ἐκόψασθε·
‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

We played flute for you and you did not dance. We sang a dirge you did not mourn!”

Matthew 11:18
ἦλθεν γὰρ Ἰωάννης μήτε ἐσθίων μήτε πίνων, καὶ λέγουσιν· Δαιμόνιον ἔχει·
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’

John came neither eating or drinking he had a demon.”

Matthew 11:19
ἦλθεν ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐσθίων καὶ πίνων, καὶ λέγουσιν· Ἰδοὺ ἄνθρωπος φάγος καὶ οἰνοπότης, τελωνῶν φίλος καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν. καὶ ἐδικαιώθη ἡ σοφία ἀπὸ τῶν [e]ἔργων αὐτῆς.
The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”[c]

c. Some manuscripts children (compare Luke 7:35)
The Son of man came and you said he's a glutton and wine drinker a lover of tax collectors and sinners.
When law was preached you did not repent when gospel preached you did not receive it.
Repent = contrition and faith.
But wisdom is proven by actions. JESUS is this wisdom of God.
John 8:31-36- speaks of the freedom we find in the Truth of Jesus Christ. All of us were born into slavery-the slavery of sin. But Christ has set us free from our bondage by His atoning sacrifice. The One who declares, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life tells us here that the Truth shall set us free. The Truth has set us free: the Truth which embodied in Christ Jesus and the Truth which He declares to us in His Word. We are free, indeed!

Who makes up the crowd? This is the simil both sinner/Saint

John 8:31
Ἔλεγεν οὖν ὁ Ἰησοῦς πρὸς τοὺς πεπιστευκότας αὐτῷ Ἰουδαίους· Ἐὰν ὑμεῖς μείνητε ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τῷ ἐμῷ, ἀληθῶς μαθηταί μού ἐστε,
Jesus began to say to those Jews who had believed in Him if you hold to my teachings you are really my disciples.

John 8:32
καὶ γνώσεσθε τὴν ἀλήθειαν, καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια ἐλευθερώσει ὑμᾶς.
Then you will know the truth and the truth will free you. 

What is "freedom"? To know is to perceive it in a believing way. A deeper kind of knowing the truth. Not the weak knowing of Adam/Eve. They knew evil but did not have intimate understanding of evil. This knowing is to possess Jesus.
John 8:33
ἀπεκρίθησαν [a]πρὸς αὐτόν· Σπέρμα Ἀβραάμ ἐσμεν καὶ οὐδενὶ δεδουλεύκαμεν πώποτε· πῶς σὺ λέγεις ὅτι Ἐλεύθεροι γενήσεσθε;
They answered to him, we are the sperm of Abraham how can you say you shall be made free?  

Irony they are children of the promise while he is the promise. See John, "do not presume to say we have Abraham as our Father,"
John 8:34
Ἀπεκρίθη αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς· Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι πᾶς ὁ ποιῶν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν δοῦλός ἐστιν τῆς ἁμαρτίας· 
Jesus said, I say to you ALL the ones who do sin are each individually slaved OF sin.

John 8:35
ὁ δὲ δοῦλος οὐ μένει ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα· [b]ὁ υἱὸς μένει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα.
A slave has no permanent place in the family. But a son belongs to it forever.

SEE Romans 6 Jesus changes from external to internal slavery.
"Into the age" you remain in the house by being a son. See Galatians 3:26-29

John 8:36
ἐὰν οὖν ὁ υἱὸς ὑμᾶς ἐλευθερώσῃ, ὄντως ἐλεύθεροι ἔσεσθε.
So if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed.

This freedom comes at a price. The price of Christ's blood. That freedom is forgiveness.
Luther’s Seal © Higher Things
English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition. Copyright © 2010 by Society of Biblical Literature and Logos Bible Software

Time in the Word - Reformation (Observed)

Time in the Word
October 19-24, 2020

Freedom of a Christian

This year marks the 503rd Anniversary of the Reformation! Lessons for this week fall under the theme of freedom -freedom from sin, knowledge of the truth, the grace of God. 

The predominant theme is salvation as the sole work of God by grace through faith. In the Gospel, God’s greatest work is Christ whom to know is to be free. In the Old Testament Lesson, God comes to offer a new relationship that is personal and internal. Paul, in the Epistle Lesson, gives the famous passage concerning God’s justification of the sinner by faith in Christ. Very definitely there is no suggestion that man has any part in his reconciliation with God. God does it all. In the Hymn of the Day, we are assured of God’s victory over Satan, our ancient foe.

Collect for ReformationAlmighty and gracious Lord pour out Your Holy Spirit on Your faithful people. Keep us steadfast in Your grace and truth, protect and deliver us in times of temptation, defend us against all enemies, and grant to Your Church Your saving peace; through Jesus Christ Your Son, our Lord who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever

Two simple yet heart felt Prayers– 

Almighty God, source of every blessing, your generous goodness comes to us anew every day

By the work of Your Spirit, lead us to acknowledge Your goodness, give thanks for Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience.

For SchoolsAlmighty God, our heavenly Father, since You have committed the care and nurture of children to Your people, graciously enlighten those who teach and those who are committed to their instruction that they may know the truth and trust in You all the days of their lives; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Prayer for responsible citizenshipLord keep this nation under Your care. Bless the leaders of our land that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to the other nations of the earth. Help us provide trustworthy leaders, contribute to wise decisions for the general welfare, and thus serve You faithfully in our generation to the honor of Your holy name.

For blessing on the WordLord God, bless Your Word wherever it is proclaimed. Make it a word of power and peace to convert those not yet Your own and to confirm those who have come to saving faith. May Your Word pass from the ear to the heart, from the heart to the lip, and from the lip to the life that, as You have promised, Your Word may achieve the purpose for which You send it; through Jesus Christ, my Lord.

Monday, October 19, 2020Psalm 34:1-2, 11, 22 - The Antiphon for this coming Sunday is from Psalm 119:46: “I will speak of Your testimonies before Kings, [O Lord] and shall not be put to shame.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020Jeremiah 31:31-34 - In our Old Testament lesson, God promises a new covenant of forgiveness. Here is a corrective to Ecclesiastes, which says there is nothing new. God makes a new covenant. Note that man has nothing to do with it. God has the idea and He proposes the new covenant. This is evidence of God’s grace in giving His people another chance to be His people. What is new about it? It is new in that the covenant will be made with the individual rather than with the nation as a whole. It is new in that each will instinctively know God rather than learning of God through teaching.

God calls Himself a husband of His people. It infers a marriage between God and His people. This is the meaning of covenant. It is a personal relationship between God and His people. Like a marriage, they belong to each other and enjoy a oneness in love and loyalty. It is expressed in God’s words, “I will be their God and they will be my people.” Sin breaks the marriage relationship for sin is disloyalty to God. Thus, it was necessary to have a new covenant.

In the scriptures knowledge is more than cognition, as one would know a fact. To know God is to enter a relationship with Him in a covenant. Thus, one cannot be taught to know God. It is an act of commitment and an entering into union with God. Thus, everyone will instinctively know
God and it is not a matter of rote.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020Romans 3:19-28 - In our Epistle lesson for this week, Paul explains the central teaching of the Bible—that God justifies the sinner by grace through faith. The word “Justified” is an important word in this pericope. The word is associated with a court. The judge acquits the guilty one. He is exonerated and allowed to go free. It is not that he was innocent, but the judge accounted him as innocent because of the penalty paid by another, Christ. The sinner is not righteous, but he is accounted or considered righteous for Jesus’ sake.

The righteousness of God is not the popular understanding of goodness, perfection, or justice. In the scriptures, righteousness means right-relatedness to God. This understanding of the word gave Luther his liberation and insight into the Gospel. It is not a word to fear or to cringe at the wrath of God. It means God’s goodness is approaching in good will to offer us reconciliation and peace. By grace we experience the righteousness of God by being rightly related to him through faith.

Thursday, October 22, 2020John 8:31-36 – In the Gospel for this Sunday, we learn that God sent Jesus into the world to set men free from sin. When Pilate asked Jesus what truth was, He gave no answer. In this passage Jesus defines the truth. It is in His word, for He spoke God’s Word. As long as we hold to the word of Jesus, we will be His disciples and will know the truth. It is not a truth of science, politics, or economics. It is religious truth personified and spoken by Christ. It is the truth of God and life.

The truth of Christ frees. It does not mean necessarily women’s liberation or political independence. These may follow. It is freedom in and of religion. Truth frees us from false religious beliefs, superstitions, and practices. Christ’s truth frees us from the Law. Christ frees us from the bondage of sin by His death on the cross. Out of his spiritual freedom come other freedoms. If we are free before and in God, we will not be content until we are free among men.

Friday, October 23, 2020Psalm 46: 1-7 - This Psalm is appointed for Reformation Sunday.  The key verse is verse 7.

Saturday, October 24, 2020Psalm 46: 8-11 - Our reading is the inspiration for tomorrow’s sermon hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” 

Morning Prayer Readings for the coming week:

October 19   37 Gideon
October 20 38 Samson – Part 1
October 21 Chapel Day
October 22 Fall Break
October 23 Fall Break

Catechism Review: 2nd Article "...suffering and death."

LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
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

Gary Heckman


            Gerhard “Gary” Heckman


Born:                                                   February 15, 1926
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”

O God, forsake me not!
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!

O God, forsake me not!
Lord, I am Yours forever.
O keep me strong in faith
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![1]

 Death is so limited…

It has not crippled love,
It has not shattered hope,
It has not corroded faith,
It has not eaten away peace
   Nor destroyed confidence

It has not killed friendship,
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![2]


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.[3]

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.[4] 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[5]

[1] O God, Forsake Me Not, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
Luther’s Seal copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things
[2] Unknown source, copyright © Common Domain
[3] op. cit. Lutheran Service Book, Concordia
[4] In Gary Heckman’s lifetime there were sixteen US presidents and eleven pastors serving Zion Friedheim parish
[5] Collect for Proper 12 Series B, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St, Louis

Proper 24


Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 24
Matthew 22:15-22
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!

Passive Sentences-3%
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

October 17 - Saturday prior to Pentecost 28 (Proper 24)


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

[1] A Prayer for our Nation, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

The United States Flag copyright © Google Images

Morning Prayer Reading 36 - 1st Conquest

First Conquest 
Joshua 6 
(Selective Verses)

6 Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in. 2 And the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. 3 You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. 4 Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. 5 And when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.”

15 On the seventh day they rose early, at the dawn of day, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times. It was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times. 16 And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout, for the Lord has given you the city. 17 And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction.Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent

 20 So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city. 25 But Rahab the prostitute and her father's household and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive. And she has lived in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

Joshua 6:5 Hebrew under itself; also verse 20
Joshua 6:17 That is, set apart (devoted) as an offering to the Lord (for destruction); also verses 18, 21

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Illustration from a woodcut by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known especially for his book, Das Buch der Bücher in Bilden (The Book of Books in Pictures). © WELS used by permission for personal and congregational use

Thursday, October 15, 2020

October 16 - Friday prior to Pentecost 20 (Proper 24)


Matthew 22:15-22 - Religious leaders attempt to trap Jesus by asking him whether taxes should be paid to Rome. The religious leaders came to Jesus with a trick question that no matter how he answers, he is in trouble.

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. [1]


[1] For Divine Guidance, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

With all your heart, copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things


Morning Prayer Reading 35 - Entrance into Cannan

Entrance into Cannan 
Deuteronomy 34 - Joshua 3 
(Selective Verses)

34 Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo,4 And the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” 5 So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord, 6 and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day. 7 Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated. 8 And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. Then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.

9 And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him and did as the Lord had commanded Moses. 10 And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, 11 none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land,

1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' assistant, 2Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success."

7 The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. 8 And as for you, command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” 14 So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, 15 and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest),

17 Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.

Joshua 3:4 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters
Joshua 3:11 Hebrew the ark of the covenant, the Lord of all the earth

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.