Sunday, June 16, 2019

In Recognition of Fathers' Day

Here are two verses that come to mind for Fathers' Day.

See the kind of love the Father has given us that we should be called children of God, and that is what we are! (1 John 3:1, Evangelical Heritage Version)

I have no greater joy than when I hear that my children are walking in the truth. (3 John 4, Evangelical Heritage Version)

A blessed Fathers' Day to all our fathers out there.

Sermon -- Holy Trinity (June 16, 2019)

JOHN 16:12-15

THE TRIUNE GOD IS UNITED FOR YOUR SALVATION.

In the name + of Jesus.

     For as much noise as atheists make, there really are not many of them.  Most people believe in some sort of god.  Most people are religious.  God designed man to have a relationship with him—that God would love and bless man, and that man would love and serve God.  Even though man has rebelled against God with his sins, he still longs to know God and to be loved and accepted by God.  That's why even in places where they've never seen a Bible, people still bow to some kind of god.
     So, how is it that all people know something about God?  And why are there so many similarities among such different religions when each speaks of the characteristics of God?  St. Paul gives an answer: “(God) did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:17)  By his creation, God has revealed himself as kind, powerful, eternal, and imaginative—giving us a world of abundance, beauty, and variety.
     God also make himself known by your conscience.  God has set a standard of right and wrong, and everyone has at least some notion of that.  When you do wrong, you feel guilty.  If you feel guilty, you realize you are accountable for what you have done wrong.  If you are accountable, you must be accountable to the one whose standard you have violated.
     Because all religions say similar things about God, people think that any version of God is valid.  This is not true.  After we make observations from creation and conscience, we still are left guessing at who God is and what he wants.  When people try to probe the mind of God, they end up turning to their own thoughts and feelings for answers.  They tell God what he must be like instead of letting God speak for himself.  The result is confusion, doubt, and fear.  People are still plagued by questions such as: “How do I address my guilt?  What shall I do about death?  How do I get right with God?  How do I gain his good pleasure?”  When people take guesses at these, we end up with different religions and different views of God.
     God's perfect revelation of himself is in Jesus of Nazareth.  He is not merely a prophet who preaches God's word.  He is not merely a teacher who talks about God.  Jesus is God in the flesh.  While there are many proofs of this, the greatest proof is that Jesus announced he would be crucified and three days later rise from the dead.  And then he did as he said.  It had all been foretold by God centuries before Jesus came, and then Jesus did what had been foretold.  Therefore, if you want to know God, pay attention to Jesus.  If you want to hear God's word, listen to Jesus.  If you long to know that you are loved and accepted by God, cling to Jesus.
     What does Jesus tell us?  Jesus tells you that you have a triune God who desires your salvation.  He declared that God the Father so loved the world he had created that he desired to redeem it.  The Father sent his Son, Jesus, to rescue sinners from their guilt and from the grave.  And Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to reveal in sacred writings the words and promises of God so that sinners can have both the comfort and the confidence that they are, indeed, loved and accepted and saved by God.  The triune God is united for your salvation.
     Jesus preached God's good news, but Jesus never wrote anything down.  Jesus spent three years teaching his apostles, but he never told them to take dictation.  Jesus' apostles recorded what Jesus did and taught after Jesus ascended into heaven.  To assure us that the apostles did truly give us the very words of God, Jesus promised, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.  He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.  All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13-15)  
     The triune God is united for our salvation.  All that belongs to the Father also belongs to Jesus.  Jesus has revealed these things to us in his word.  The Holy Spirit worked through the apostles to give us the very words of God.  Therefore, we study the Scriptures to be sure of who God is or what he wants.
     Many people say that they believe in a god, but they have no idea how to address the burden of their guilt or to take away the fear of death.  Based on their natural knowledge of God, they know that God must be appeased somehow.  Different religions give different answers.  But they all share this in common: Man must do something to earn God's favor.  But who knows how much is enough?  And who knows if you did the right works?  And who knows if God is finally appeased with your sacrifices and pleased with you?  The triune God does not leave you guessing.  The triune God is united for your salvation.
     Jesus reveals to us that we have a good and merciful Father who desires our salvation.  This is what Jesus meant when he told the apostles, “[The Spirit of truth] will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:14)  The glory of Jesus is that he takes away your guilt.  He is God who has become man in order to take away the sins of all mankind.  God is not only united in his desire to save us, God even united himself to us in order to save us.  By becoming man, Jesus took the place of all mankind before his Father.  He took up our sins.  He absorbed the punishment we deserve.  He received the due penalty and the damning sentence for you.  Thanks to Jesus, your sins have been removed.  God has no reason to be angry with you.  Thanks to Jesus, God's favor does rest upon you.  You are children of the heavenly Father.  And the man who took your place at the cross has also conquered the grave for you.  Man has defeated death, and assures you that you, too, will be raised from the grave to live with God forever.  The Holy Spirit was given to the apostles to guide them in all the truth so that you can be sure of it.  The triune God is united in this effort to save you.
     Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, ... he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak.  ... He will take what is mine and declare it to you.  All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13-15)  The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit speak with one voice.  For this is one God, and he is united for your salvation.  And since he is the Savior, he does all the work.  He not only did all the work to provide your forgiveness, to overcome death, and to open the gates of heaven, he also has done to work to deliver these benefits to you.  All other religions instruct you about how you must get to God, reach up to him, do work to communicate with him, and take from him or at least strike a bargain with him—your obedience for his favor.  But our Lord has acted to bring us into his family.
     When you were baptized, the triune God put his name on you.  For, you were baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  He has claimed you as his own.  It is just like when you were young and put your name on your school work, a baseball glove, or a toy.  You marked it as yours.  And if anyone tried to say it was theirs, your name made any other claims null and void.  And so it is with you.  Your baptism marks you as God's own.  By it, he silences any claims from the devil that you are too great a sinner and should perish for your sins.  God renders all such claims null and void.  The Father loves you.  The Son has redeemed you.  The Holy Spirit dwells in you.  That is because the triune God is united in his saving work for you.  He does not simply want you to live, he wants you to live with him.  He wants to be with you.  For the Triune God loves you.  He accepts you.  He calls you his own.  And he gives you what is his so that you will be his forevermore.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

Friday, June 14, 2019

Michigan District Convention -- Bowling Green University

This past week, June 10-12, the pastors of the Michigan District met at Bowling Green University for our district convention.  The theme of the convention was on Holy Baptism, which always makes for a comforting and Christ-centered theme.  There was no controversy brewing, so it was a pretty uneventful convention.  But a boring convention usually means good things for the district and synod.  Here are a couple of photos from Bowling Green, Ohio.




Worship Notes: The Athanasian Creed

This Sunday (June 16) is Trinity Sunday.  On this one Sunday of the church year, we recite one of the ecumenical creeds which often gets overlooked.  Many Christians are not even aware of it.  Join us to make this bold confession regarding the triune nature of God and the dual nature of Jesus. 

An explanation of the Athanasian Creed is here:

THE ATHANASIAN CREED

The Athanasian Creed is one of the three catholic creeds.  The word catholic means universal, as in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.  The word creed comes from the Latin word credo which means “I believe.”  Luther said of this creed, “I doubt whether the New Testament church has a more important document since the Apostolic age.”

Although named for Athanasius, the bishop of Alexandria (ca. 296-373), it is almost certain that he did not write it.  Neither Athanasius nor his contemporaries ever refer to it.  But even if Athanasius did not write the creed, he certainly would have ascribed to it.  Athanasius was one of the bishops at the ecumenical Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) which opposed the heresy of Arius (ca. 250-336).  Arius denied the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, teaching that he is of a similar substance to God the Father, but not of the same substance.  In essence, Arius claimed that Jesus Christ is not the eternal God.  This belief has resurfaced in modern-day cults such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons.  The Council of Nicaea adopted the Nicene Creed to affirm that Jesus is “God from God, Light from Light, true God from True God” and “of one being with the Father.”

The Athanasian Creed first appeared in Gaul (France) late in the 5th century.  Early in that century, Europe was invaded from the east by barbarian tribes, notably the Vandals and Goths.  This event marked the beginning of the Dark Ages.  During this time, the people and the clergy lapsed into illiteracy and ignorance of the Scriptures.  In addition, some of the invaders were Arian in their beliefs.  Out of this confusion came the need for a clear statement of faith.  The result was the Athanasian Creed.

The Athanasian Creed quickly assumed an important role in the orthodox church.  (Much of the visible church was overrun with Arianism.)  Emperor Charlemagne (ca. 742-814), in order to preserve the true Christian faith, decreed that all churchmen had to learn this creed and to be able to teach it to the laity.

The second portion of the Athanasian Creed reaffirms the Nicene Creed regarding the person of Jesus Christ.  However, it begins with a most excellent presentation on the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.  It says no more and no less than Scriptures say, letting the paradox of God’s nature stand (i.e., God is one; God is three).

Confessors of the creed should not be put off by the second to last article which says: “Those who have done good will enter eternal life, but those who have done evil will go into eternal fire” (cp also John 5:28,29).  The article does not teach salvation attained by human works, but simply reflects that our good works (or lack thereof) are evidence of God-given faith (or unbelief).  When we remember that our good works are actually God’s work through us, then we will understand this article correctly (cf Ephesians 2:8-10).  In addition, we remember that are judged based on Jesus’ merits, not our own.  We have been given the credit for Christ’s righteousness.  Therefore, we are heirs of eternal life.

This creed ought to bring us great comfort, as it speaks clearly about our God and his plan for our salvation.  Its clearness and boldness are refreshing in this age of doctrinal confusion.  This is no wishy-washy confession.  It states what the Scriptures teach – there is no God but the Lord revealed in the Scriptures, and there is no salvation outside of the name of Jesus Christ.  All who deny this deny the truth; and all who deny the truth forfeit salvation.

Finally, a study of this creed and the history which surrounds it shows how important it is for us to be familiar with the history of the Christian Church.  When we understand how Christians who have gone before us identified error and combated it, then we will better be able to do the same.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Update from Good Shepherd (June 13, 2019)

Greetings!


SUMMER SCHEDULE
Divine Services are Thursdays at 7:00 PM and Sundays at 10:00 AM.

        Sunday School & Sunday's Adult Bible Class will be on hiatus throughout the summer.  They will resume on September 8.
VBS PREPARATION MEETING
In order to get ready for the children's portion of our VBS later this July, we will need to make sure that we have people in place for teachers, assistants, providers of snacks, promotion, and others to support our efforts.  We will meet after church THIS SUNDAY (June 16).  Even if you do not attend the meeting, please help promote both parts of our Family VBS for both adults and children.

FAMILY VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL
The dates for our Family VBS are Monday-Wednesday (6:30 – 8:00 PM), July 29-31. 
Rather than limit the study of the Bible to our children (and guests), our VBS will include people of all ages.  There will be an adult study going on the same time as the children.
The topic of study and discussion for the adults will be The Canon of Scripture: Why These Books?  “Canon” refers to a stick or a standard (like a “cane”).  We confess the 66 canonical books to be the Holy Scriptures.  But why those books?  And why not others?  And what about the Apocrypha; why not them?  For three nights, we will consider how God gave us the Scriptures and why we regard only the 66 books in our Bible as the word of God.
We encourage you to invite friends to our VBS sessions—both children and adults.  Look for a registration form on our web page to indicate your participation.

IN OUR PRAYERS
>  Fathers' Day (6/16)
>  Thanks for Peter Schroeder's successful surgery (6/12)

OFFICE HOURS
Regular office hours at Good Shepherd will be Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 8:00 AM – 1:00 PM. While there may be some flexibility to this schedule, we will try to keep it as regular as possible. 

DO YOU LIKE US?
Look for Good Shepherd on Facebook.  Then “LIKE” us for updates and other postings.

God bless you.

In Christ,
Pastor Schroeder

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DIVINE SERVICES -- Summer Schedule
     Thursdays at 7:00 PM
     Sundays at 10:00 AM

SUNDAY SCHOOL & ADULT BIBLE CLASS will resume September 8.

GOOD SHEPHERD’S WEBSITE
www.GoodShepherdNovi.org

PASTOR SCHROEDER’S BLOG
www.LutheranSubject.blogspot.com

Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church
41415 W. Nine Mile Road
Novi, Michigan  48375-4306
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Divine Services -- Sundays at 10:00 AM

Monday, June 10, 2019

The history of Novi -- Twelve Oaks Mall & How Novi got its name

Here is something cool about the history of the city of Novi.  Novi celebrates 50 years as a city, but the history goes back much further.

There are a number of videos which tell the history of Novi, and I will link to two vignettes.  The first is about the history of the Twelve Oaks Mall, and how it transformed the city of Novi to the community it is today.




The second is probably the most legendary about the city: How did Novi get its name?  This interesting video ends up not giving the answer, but all the most popular theories are given.