Sunday, August 11, 2013

When the Day Comes

The Sword
Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground. (Ephesians 6:13)

Clear your mind for a moment and think about three specific days. The first two are Sunday, December 7, 1941, and Tuesday, September 11, 2001. If you’re an American citizen, those first two days are so seared into your memory that their very mention triggers footage in your mind as to what took place.

Now let’s talk about the third day. The third day is still in the future. The third day is personal. The third day is coming for you. The Apostle Paul describes it as “the day of evil.” The day of evil is the next time the devil launches an attack on your Christian faith.

What will that attack look like? Well, that depends. You see, as you read or listen to this message, the devil is already at work. He’s observing you, studying you. He’s recording all your weaknesses. He notes what makes you angry. He notes how you act when you get tired, or irritated, or bored. He keeps track of what pumps up your sinful pride. He pays attention to what makes you feel discouraged. And he watches and remembers every single thing that tends to distract you from your relationship with your Savior.

Then he’ll launch his attack. Tailor made just for you. Often the attack is so subtle it may be difficult for you even to notice. At other time the attack is so sudden you may have trouble even taking in what’s just happened. One thing is for certain. The day of evil is coming...for you. And after that day, another day will come. And another one will come after that.

That’s why we need Jesus. We need him during the summer, the fall, the winter, and spring. We need him on Sunday, and Monday, and Tuesday, and Wednesday, and Thursday, and Friday, and Saturday. There is no vacation from Satan’s attacks and temptations...from the day of evil.

That’s why we need God’s Word to bring us to repentance. That’s why we need the power of his forgiveness. That’s why we need the clarity of his will for our lives. The day of evil is about to arrive. The time to prepare is right now. Put on the full armor of God. Take your stand in Christ and his Word so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground.

Pastor Dennis Himm
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church (WELS)
Grand Blanc, MI

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Apostles' Creed

Taken from Luther’s Catechism
(3rd edition 1998)

Do you know the Apostles’ Creed? I have recited it in church every Sunday all my life. It truly sums up who I am and what I believe. It tells me where I came from and where I am going.

Where I came from (Creation):

I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.
What does this mean?
·         I believe that God created me and all that exists, and that he gave me my body and soul, eyes, ears and all my members, my mind and all my abilities. And I believe that God still preserves me by richly and daily providing clothing and shoes, food and drink. Property and home, spouse and children, land cattle, and all I own, and all I need to keep my body and life. God also preserves me by defending me against all danger, guarding and protecting me from all evil. All this God does only because he is my good and merciful Father in heaven, and not because I have earned or deserved it. For all this I ought to thank and praise, to serve and obey him. This is most certainly true.

I am a redeemed child of God (Redemption):

He lived
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
What does this mean?
He died
·         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. He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver but with his holy, precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death.
All this he did that I should be his own, and live under him in his kingdom, and serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness, just as he has risen from death and lives and rules eternally.
This is most certainly true.

I have been made holy through the blood of Jesus (Sanctification):

He rose from death
I believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy Christian church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen
What does this mean?
·         I believe that I cannot by my own thinking or choosing believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him. But the Holy Spirit has called me by the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way he calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church he daily and fully forgives all sins to me and all believers. On the Last Day he will raise me and all the dead and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.

What beautiful words these are. They are filled with hope, light and life. They tell us where we came from and how we are to live. They tell us that Jesus redeemed all people from death and the power of Satan and that through faith in Him we are forgiven and made holy by His blood. They tell us that death is not forever – that the bodies of all believers will be raised on the last day and be granted eternal life with Him in heaven.

I am His child
This truly is reason for rejoicing!

Heavenly Father, it is only by your wonderful grace that I was born into a Christian family. Words cannot express my thanks to you. Thank you also for the gift of baptism, by which you brought me to faith, forgave my sins and adopted me into your family. I believe your promise of life after this life and look forward to the day I will meet you face to face and live in your wonderful kingdom eternally. Take away my fears and help me to trust in your almighty power. Amen. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

For American Christians

Jesus died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (2 Corinthians 5:15)

Let’s start with this understanding—you and I live in a nation through which the Lord has given us breathtaking blessings. A simple walk through your local supermarket would make most people in this world speechless with amazement. After the election of every new president, the most powerful military in the world takes orders from its new Commander in Chief, an orderly transition of authority that many other nations find impossible to comprehend. And when you and I gather around God’s Word, we don’t worry about gangs of men rushing in with machetes to slaughter us because we’re Christians—a very real fear in other parts of the globe.

But for all these blessings in our wonderful land, there’s also a toxin that’s oozing its way throughout our society. It’s an attitude that simply says, “Life is about me.”

You are not immune to this attitude. I’m not, either. After all, like most other Americans, I’ve watched thousands of hours of television over the years. Many of those hours included commercials telling me that life is about getting something new for myself, about making my life more convenient, about using my credit card to get what I want right now, about improving the way I look, upgrading what I drive. This lifelong stream of me centered messages can easily make the case that “Life is about me.”

But life isn’t about me. And thank God that it is not.

Jesus came. He rescued us from the vacuum of a self-absorbed life. He lived a selfless life on our behalf. Then he died on the cross for every self-centered action, every self-centered thought. Through faith in Him, all is forgiven. All things are new.
Freedom from sin through Jesus

This means everything. It means you don’t have to go back to the bottomless pit of a me-centered life. You don’t have to go back to the loneliness, the fear, the quiet desperation, the shame and guilt. Now you have Jesus. Now you have the One who can truly fill the emptiness in your life. Now through the power of the Holy Spirit you can live for him who died for you and was raised again.

During this month when you pause to thank God for this great nation, may you pause to remember your Savior who has given you real freedom. On July 4th celebrate your independence as an American citizen. But on each day celebrate your dependence on your loving Savior as an American Christian.

Pastor Dennis Himm
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church
Grand Blanc, Mi.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Fun of Life

Jesus is the light of life

On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine-the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. In that day they will say, ‘surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him. Let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation’ (Isaiah 25: 6-9).

True or False? God takes all the fun out of life.

Do you believe that? Some people do. They think that God (or religion or Christianity) exists to deprive people of pleasure by restricting human behavior with “you shalls” and “you shall nots”.

God does not take the fun out of life. God puts the fun in life. Jesus said; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full (John 10:10).

Satan takes the fun out of life. Satan takes true fun from us. He tempts us with sinful pleasure instead of godly pleasure. Have you fallen for his lies? He baits the trap with tasty morsels of greed, lust, indulgence or unfaithfulness. These sins leave a bitter taste in our mouths – a taste of regret and remorse. His poisoned plate makes us sick.

God does not take the fun out of life. He makes life a celebration of his grace. He invites us to his healthy, joyful dinner. Join him on the mountain for his feast of rich food and aged wine. By this imagery the prophet Isaiah depicts a blessed meeting place for God and his people. God welcomes his people to a mountain retreat where he surrounds them with his love and provides a feast of his blessings. His people respond with trust and praise.

The host of this feast is Jesus, the risen Savior of the world. With his sacrifice for the sins of all he destroyed the shroud that enfolded all people. By rising from the dead he swallowed up death forever. Best of all, this feast never ends. It lasts through eternity.

You want to have fun? Join the LORD Almighty at his feast. He serves you richly with the gospel of salvation through Jesus. Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.

Pastor Dennis Himm
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church
Grand Blanc, MI.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

My Redeemer Lives!

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes - I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! (Job 19:25-27)

The words above spoken by the prophet Job were spoken many years before the birth of Jesus, yet they were spoken in faith and with confidence in the promises of God. Job knew that he would die someday and his body would would be placed in the ground where it would decay and turn back to dust. But he also knew that his body and soul would be reunited again in heaven on judgement day, and that he would see God face to face.

Today (March 31, 2013) all Christians celebrated Jesus' resurrection from the dead. It is a day of rejoicing because in Jesus we have hope and the promise of a new life to come. Without Jesus we have no purpose in life. Without Jesus we live only to die someday. But with Jesus, death is merely the gateway to heaven where we will live with God forever and bask in His love and light. With Jesus we live our life here on earth in joyful service to Him and our fellowman and we look forward to the life to come.

Job looked forward to the promised Messiah. We who live 2013 years after the birth of Christ can look back and speak with the same confidence knowing that Jesus lived and died for us, and rose again triumphant over death. Jesus promises that because He lives, all who have faith in Him will live also. All who believe in Jesus will someday pass from death into eternal life in heaven. And when Jesus comes again to judge the world our bodies and souls will once again be reunited. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One [Jesus] see decay Acts 2: 26, 27). 

There is a hymn I have sung every Easter since I was old enough to memorize and/or read the words. The Hymn is titled; I know that my Redeemer Lives. It was sung at my grandfather's funeral at his request. It was sung at my mother's funeral at my request and it will be sung at my own funeral also at my request. It offers much comfort for the living and for the dying. I would like to print for you selected verses.

I Know that My Redeemer Lives

I know that my Redeemer lives; 
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, he lives, who once was dead; 
He lives my ever living head! 

He lives triumphant from the grave;
He lives eternally to save.
He lives all glorious in the sky;
He lives exalted there on high.

 He lives to bless me with his love; 
He lives to plead for me above.
He lives my hungry soul to feed;
He lives to help in time of need.

He lives and grants me daily breath;
He lives, and I shall conquer death.
He lives my mansion to prepare;
He lives to bring me safely there.

He lives all glory to his name!
He lives my Jesus, still the same.
Oh the sweet joy this sentence gives;
"I know that my Redeemer Lives!"
(Christian Worship Pg. 152, Vs. 1,2,3,7,8)

Thank you Jesus for living and dying for me! 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Come to Calvary

The following four verses of the hymn Come to Calvary's holy Mountain were sung in our worship service today. It pretty much tells the whole story of life, death, and life after death, and the hope that we have in Jesus through His death and resurrection. 

I invite you to come to the cross and drink from the water of life. You will be blessed!


A healing fountain

 Come to Calvary's holy mountain,
Sinners, ruined by the fall;
Here a pure and healing fountain
flows to you, to me, to all,
In a full, perpetual tide, 
 Opened when our Savior died.

"You shall walk with God in light"

 Come in poverty and  meekness,
Come defiled, without, within;
From infection and uncleanness,
From the leprosy of sin,
Wash your robes and make them white;
You shall walk with God in light.

"Come in sorrow and contrition"
Come in sorrow and contrition, 
Wounded, paralyzed and blind;
Here the guilty, free remission,
Here the troubled, peace may find.
Health this fountain will restore;
He that drinks shall thirst no more.

"He that drinks will thirst no more"

He that drinks shall live forever;
'T'is a soul-renewing flood.
God is faithful; God will never
Break his covenant of blood,
Signed when our Redeemer died,
Sealed when he was glorified.
                                    (Christian Worship pg. 106)

"Signed when our Redeemer died"

"Sealed when he was glorified"

Sunday, March 17, 2013

"Try it, You'll like it!"

 Come and Taste the Lord's Goodness

Come to the Cross

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him (Psalm 34:8)

I am a sinner. Because I am a sinner, I will die someday, but because of Jesus, I have hope.

Have you ever tried to go one day or even one hour without thinking a bad thought or feeling anger toward someone or some circumstance in your life? Have you ever had dreams you were ashamed to repeat to anyone? Have you ever made choices in life that hurt you or someone you love? Have you ever had a selfish or inconsiderate attitude toward others? Do you use God’s name on a daily basis, or any time for that matter, in ways that aren’t loving and don’t give Him honor? Have you ever disrespected your parents or mistreated your siblings and friends?

If you have answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you are a sinner too. The truth is we are all sinners. The Bible tells us we are sinful from birth - from the moment we were conceived in our mother’s womb. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me (Psalm 51:5). 

“Sin” is a disease which cannot be avoided. It is a disease which we inherit from our parents, they from their parents, and so on all the way back to Adam and Eve. It is a disease which dooms us to an eternity in hell. When we are covered in sin we are unable to stand before a holy God.

Wow, by the sounds of that we don’t have a chance. We were lost before we even got started. God tells us in His Word; the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).  God is holy and He expects us to be holy also. Our sins separate us from Him. He didn’t create us sinful. He created humans perfect and holy like Him.  

Most people, Christians and non Christians alike know the story of man’s fall into sin (Genesis 2,3). Because Adam and Eve sinned against God, we live in a fallen world. All people born since the fall are sinners and doomed to die someday. Death is not a natural part of God’s creation. It is the devastating result of sin. Because of sin death will touch all beings born onto this earth.

But God loved the first people and He loves you. Because of His deep love for all people He devised a plan to rescue us from death and eternal punishment.

After Adam and Eve sinned God promised them a Savior. This Savior would crush the head of Satan so that death could not hold them (or us) prisoners (Gen. 3:15). This promised Savior was His perfect and holy Son, Jesus. He was born into the world as flesh and blood just like you and I, but unlike you and I
Jesus, the promised Savior
Jesus was holy and without sin. He lived the perfect and holy life we are unable to live due to our inherited sinful nature. He died on the cross and suffered the punishment of Hell (separation from God) in our place. His suffering and death paid the debt we owe to God for our sin and His resurrection crushed the head of Satan and defeated his power. We no longer need to fear death because Jesus gives us hope for eternity.

Jesus’ love for all people sent Him to the cross. He took the punishment that we deserve for our sin upon Himself. Without Him God’s anger rests on us. We are told in John 3:18; whoever believes in him [Jesus] is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. Only through faith in Jesus can we escape an eternity in Hell.

Any human who rejects Jesus is covered in God’s wrath and will go to Hell. It doesn’t matter if you are a good person who is kind to others. It doesn’t matter if you have never committed a crime. It doesn’t matter if you work hard and are honest, or if you give generously to charities. God will not see the good things
"Love" nailed Him to the Cross
you do if you don’t have faith in Jesus. He will look right past you. He will not even know you and if you die in that state of mind and heart, you will go to Hell. God expects us to be holy. He says; be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy (Leviticus 19:2).

Do you know Jesus? Have you met Him in His Word? If you do not know Him personally, be advised that he does know you. He knows each and every person on this earth (past, present and future) personally and you can rest assured that He loves you as if you were His only child. He loves each of us in that way.

I invite you to come to know Jesus. Faith in Jesus comes from the Holy Spirit through baptism, through reading and studying Scripture, and through hearing it taught.  Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the
Faith through the Word
message is heard through the word of Christ
(Romans 10:17).

Faith is a true blessing. It is life changing. It will fill the emptiness in your soul. Through faith you will become a part of God’s family. You will be free from the chains of sin which Satan uses to try to drag you down and make you feel unworthy. Through faith in Jesus the good things that you do will be the result of your love for God rather that your way to heaven.

Through faith you can live to serve God and your fellow man without the fear of eternal death hanging over you. Yes, you will die someday. We all will. But all who die in faith will pass from this life directly into the next to live eternally in heaven. We will live in the presence of God forever. We will all be members of one family – God’s family. In heaven; He [Jesus] will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away (Revelation 21: 4).

A gift from the Holy Spirit
Does it sound good to you? It may even sound too good to be true, but it’s not. Heaven is a free gift offered to all people by God’s grace through faith in His Son. You don’t have to try to be good or sinless to go to heaven. By faith, Jesus’ suffering and death covers the dirt and filth of your sin. God no longer sees it.

So then, are we still sinners? You better believe it! We need to come to Jesus everyday with a repentant heart. We need to kneel at the foot of the cross in sorrow and ask His forgiveness. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1: 8, 9). Yes, we are sinners, but through faith in Jesus we are also saints.

We are holy in God’s eyes because when he looks at us through the blood of His Son shed on the cross He no longer sees our sin. He sees His holy and Perfect
His blood covers our sin
Son. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool (Isaiah 1:18).

Step into the light of God’s love and taste of His goodness. Taste and see that He is good. You will be truly blessed. His love will shine through you and light up the world around you. Try it – you’ll like it!

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6: 23).

To God be all glory. Amen.

By Kristeen