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

==============================
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
+   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +
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.



Sunday, June 9, 2019

Sermon -- Pentecost (June 9, 2019)

ACTS 1:1-21

THE HOLY SPIRIT
GATHERS IN THE CHURCH.

In the name + of Jesus.

     The Festival of Pentecost was one of the major festivals of the Old Testament.  Three times a year, the Lord commanded all Israel to gather in Jerusalem for a festival.  Pentecost, one of those three festivals, was also known as the Feast of Ingathering.  It was a harvest festival, marking the end of the wheat harvest.  So, fifty days after Jesus' resurrection, there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. (Acts 2:5)  The Lord was gathering in his own harvest—people from all nations to be gathered into the Christian Church.
     A remarkable change was taking place at this Pentecost.  As St. Luke had noted, the crowds in Jerusalem were mainly Jews.  They were one people with one heritage and one language.  God's covenant had been delivered through Moses in Hebrew.  The songs of the temple were sung in Hebrew.  The benediction of the priests was put upon God's people in Hebrew.  God's prophets preached in Hebrew to defend the covenant and to correct the erring people.  But now, the New Testament was proclaimed in the different languages and dialects which were heard in the streets of countries around the world.
     St. Luke described the scene: When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.  And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.  And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4)  
     Only once before had people been given the ability to speak in unlearned languages, but that was a curse.  In our Old Testament lesson, we heard how the people at Babel defied God's word to fill the earth and subdue it.  In order to drive the people apart, the Lord confused their languages.  This caused the people to look at their neighbors with fear and suspicion.  Those with a common language dispersed to their own communities and filled the earth as God had commanded.  But at Pentecost, the Lord blessed the apostles with the ability to speak in the languages of the earth in order to gather the nations into his kingdom.
     The Holy Spirit gathers in the Church.  The Holy Spirit unites us all into one holy church.  We usually find unity with people when we find a common interest or have a common background.  People bond over their favorite sports team or TV show.  Parents bond with others parents because, “My kid goes to school with your kid,” or “My kid is on the same team as your kid.”  If you went to Disney World and saw another person wearing a Detroit Tigers cap, you would be far more likely to greet that person than someone wearing a San Diego Padres cap.  On the other hand, people who look different, act strange, or speak a foreign language are often looked at with suspicion or even derision.  This leads to ignoring others, fearing them, thinking the worst of them, or even attacking them.  The Lord has declared, “Love your neighbor;” but we are all guilty of putting conditions on that—withholding love from those who speak another language, wear a different wardrobe, or even cheer for the rival team.  The default position of our sinful nature is: “If you are like me, then I like you.  If you are not like me, then I don't like you.”  Repent.
     No matter what a person's skin color is, we all have a sinful flesh.  No matter what country someone has come from, we are all children of Adam and, therefore, destined for the grave.  No matter what language we speak, we all must confess our sins.  There is no difference.  All are sinners.  All need a Savior.  And from all of these people, God the Holy Spirit desires to gather people into his Church.
     When the day of Pentecost arrived, … there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind...  At this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. (Acts 2:2,6)  When the crowds had gathered, Peter preached to them.  He did not tell them that being Jewish made them better or worse.  He did not suggest that being religious made them better or worse.  What he did proclaim is that they were accountable for their sins, no matter who they were.  Our reading does not include Peter's entire Pentecost sermon, but Peter declared to these God-fearing Jews: “Hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.  God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.  …Therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:22-24,36)  
     As great a miracle as the apostles' speaking in tongues was, even greater is the miracle that the people believed Peter's words.  They did not offer excuses.  They did not rely on the fact that they were godly, moral, or decent.  They did not insist that the death of Jesus was not their fault.  Rather, they recognized their sins and their accountability, and they feared the wrath of God.  They were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”  And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2:37-39)  And on that day, the Holy Spirit gathered into his Church 3,000 people who believed and were baptized.
     The Holy Spirit still gathers in the Church.  Though the miraculous signs do not continue today and you should not expect to suddenly speak Arabic or some other language, the work of the Holy Spirit does continue.  The Holy Spirit gathers in his Church.  There is no difference in how he works, and there is no difference with people today.  We are not better because we are religious, moral, or American.  No one is worse because of skin color, language, or culture.  We are all accountable to God because of our sins.  All people hold this in common—we need a Savior from sin.  Just the Holy Spirit gathered people in the Church through Peter's preaching, so he does today.
     The crowds themselves testified to what they had heard: “We hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” (Acts 2:11)  The mighty works of God are the sufferings, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  Although we have defied our God, our God devoted himself to saving us.  We have withheld love from our neighbor who is different.  God is clearly different than we are, but he loves us and made himself one with us by becoming a man.  Although we have assumed the worst about our fellow man, God's heart was set on seeking our eternal good.  We have spoken evil of others whose speech we don't even understand.  But God speaks to us in mercy, declaring us forgiven for the sake of Jesus who laid down his life to pay for our sins.  And Jesus rose from the grave to assure us that we will not be cursed, banished, and scattered like the people at Babel.  Rather, the Holy Spirit gathers in the Church which unites in God's praises with diverse languages and varied cultures.
     The world is united in this: All are sinners.  But the Church is united in this: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:21)  The Holy Spirit gathers in the Church and unites it in the forgiveness of sins won by Jesus and administered in your baptism.  No matter what culture you come from, it has been sanctified in Christ.  No matter what skin color you have, it has been cleansed in Christ.  No matter what a traditional wardrobe is for you, you are clothed with Christ.  In heaven, St. John saw the saints from every people, tribe, nation, and language there.  They were not forced to learn one dialect.  Instead, each proclaims in his own native language the mighty works of God and confesses Christ.  For the Holy Spirit has converted our tongues to praise our God.
     The Holy Spirit gathers in the Church.  And you, who have been gathered in by him, now get to go forth and declare the praises of God.  God changed sinful hearts and brought life to the dead at Pentecost, and he continues to work the miracle of conversion today.  You get to prophesy, which is today, you get to proclaim the good news of Jesus.  There are plenty of different languages, cultures, and people among us in our city, but there is only one Savior.  We have his word.  It is meant for all.  And you will demonstrate no greater love for your neighbors than to declare the mercies of our redeeming God.

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

Friday, June 7, 2019

A Pastoral Concern -- How to sing hymns

It is no secret to people in the congregation I serve that I am not a fan of large flat screen TVs in the front of church.  They inspire people to watch TV.  I consider their place in the church to be unnecessary, even an intrusion.  The reasons to keep people using their hymnals instead of watching a projection on a screen are plenteous.  The need for screens is minimal at best.

Well, leave it to innovative congregation to come up with a solution.  Hey, this is so crazy, it just might work!

This pastoral concern has been brought to you by the Babylon Bee.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Update from Good Shepherd (June 6, 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.

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. 

OPEN FORUM / VOTERS' MEETING
        On Sunday, June 9 after church, we will have an Open Forum and Voters' Meeting.  The main focus of our Open Forum will be long-range planning and discussing the steps we will need to make in the remainder of this year in order to make our congregation as productive as we can in serving our community with the Gospel.  All confirmed members of Good Shepherd are encouraged to join us.  The Voters' Meeting will take place immediately following the Open Forum.

FAMILY VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL
The dates for our Family VBS are set.  We will meet Monday-Wednesday (6:30 – 8:00 PM), July 29-31.  This is a change from our regular VBS schedule.
Also changed will be the focus of our VBS.  Rather than limit the study of the Bible to our children (and guests), we want people of all ages to join us.  So, 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.
While our target audience is our congregation, 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 (more necessary for the children's VBS).

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

==============================
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
+   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +
Divine Services -- Sundays at 10:00 AM

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Sermon -- The Ascension of our Lord, transferred (June 2, 2019)

LUKE 24:44-53

OUR ASCENDED KING RULES BY GRACE.

M: Alleluia!  Christ is risen!
Cong:  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

In the name + of Jesus.

     When Jesus was about to ascend into heaven, his apostles asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6)  They had seen Jesus correct the evils of this world by bringing sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf.  He had cleansed lepers and even raised the dead.  It seemed that Jesus was going to make everything right.  Jesus is the Son of David.  So the apostles were hopeful that Jesus would take his place on the throne of David and rule the world.  Was this the time?  In other words, would Jesus bring order and sense to a corrupt and chaotic world?  Would Jesus make everything right? 
     It is an appetizing thought.  Many challenge the Christian faith with it: If God really is all powerful, then why doesn't he put an end to wars and rumors of war, earthquakes, famines, and tornadoes?  If God really is love, then why doesn't he put a stop to broken homes and abusive fathers?  Why doesn't he empty cancer wards, cure Lou Gehrig's disease, and eliminate the need for children's hospitals?  If all authority in heaven and earth has been given to Jesus and if he has established the kingdom of God, then why doesn't Jesus make everything right?  We, too, long for these things.  We pray for them, because we long to be free from sin and every evil.  So, will Jesus bring order and sense to a corrupt and chaotic world?
     In a word, Jesus answers, “No.”  Not as the apostles thought, and not as you might think.  Jesus said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8) 
     Much to our dismay, Jesus is not going to make this world Paradise.  Jesus has established a kingdom, but Jesus' rule is not based on finances, health, or diplomacy.  Jesus does not promise these things either.  These promises come from politicians and advertisers.  We vote for the politicians who offer the biggest prizes, and we throw money at the companies whose product features laughing people on sunny beaches.  Even though we know better, we still think that Paradise can be achieved.  So, our priorities and prayers are devoted to an easier life, a fatter wallet, better health, and a perfect world.  But no matter how many prizes the politicians deliver and no matter how slick the advertisements are, the world is still corrupt and chaotic.  The Scriptures give you this warning: “Do not love the world or the things in the world.  … The world is passing away along with its desires...” (1 John 2:15,17)  God's grace is not given through finances, health, and diplomacy.  Those who trust in them will perish with them.
     Just before Jesus ascended into heaven, he told the Church what its mission is: “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:46-48)  The apostles were to proclaim what they had witnessed concerning Jesus.  Jesus does establish a kingdom, and our ascended king rules by grace.
     So, what did the apostles witness?  What grace did they see?  They saw that God loved his creation enough to become man and dwell among us.  They saw Jesus fulfill all the promises God had made about the Christ, so that they could attest without doubt that Jesus is the Messiah-King.  They heard Jesus declare that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but shall be raised up on the Last Day for eternal life.  They had witnessed John the Baptist point to Jesus and declare, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)  They had witnessed the public slaying of that Lamb so that no one could deny he had died.  They saw his blood shed as the payment for the sin of the world.  They had witnessed Jesus' resurrection from the dead, just has he had foretold them, proving that all his claims and all his promises are true—particularly his promise that whoever believes in his name will receive forgiveness of sins, new life, and salvation.
     Jesus, therefore, did not tell the apostles, “Go out and make the world a better place.”  He did not send them to be financial planners, to hand out prescriptions, or to negotiate treaties among kings.  Jesus commissioned them: “Repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in (Jesus') name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:47-48)  Our ascended king rules by grace.
     After Jesus ascended into heaven, his apostles would go forth to declare what they had seen and heard.  They would call people to repent and declare that forgiveness of sins is found in Jesus Christ alone.  They would make the death and resurrection of Jesus known so that people could believe in him, become part of his kingdom, and receive the benefits of his grace.  For, the kingdom of God is founded on Jesus—that he is the Messiah-King, that he is the Savior, that he is the sole source of forgiveness, that he alone is the way to the Father, and that he is the resurrection and the life.  Our ascended king rules by grace. 
     He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. (Apostles' Creed)  This man, Jesus of Nazareth, now rules heaven and earth.  He who became a man to unite himself to you in order to redeem you now dwells in the presence of God and rules over all things for your good.  He lives and reigns for the good of his Church.  Our ascended king rules by grace.  So no matter what you must face in this world, your ascended king is overseeing all of it.  Everything that happens he does for your eternal good.  For the moment, it may not feel good.  It may, in fact, seem to be the evils that you pray to be delivered from.  But if what you endure causes you to pray to the Lord, and if your prayer is that you would finally be delivered out of this world of sin and brought into the glories of heaven, then even the evils you suffer and serving your eternal good.  This is part of your ascended king's gracious rule.
     No matter what evils may come, they do not change that Jesus is in control, that Jesus is merciful, and that Jesus is doing all things for your good.  Once again, what we think of as good and what is actually good for us are often two different things.  Our Lord Jesus teaches you not to trust in wealth.  Riches are easily lost.  Sometimes Jesus has to prove that to you by draining your wealth with expenses.  Wealth cannot be trusted and it should not be loved.  The kingdom of our Lord, however, is unfailing and invaluable.  The Lord Jesus has shown you not to trust in your health.  All men are grass, and all their glory will pass away.  The grace of our Lord, however, endures forever.  And while we are all grateful for a peaceful world, we know that the promises of men are not reliable.  Treaties are often broken, and nations go to war.  But the peace that Jesus has secured cannot be nullified by anything.   Your forgiveness cannot be canceled.  Your new life cannot be killed.  Your salvation cannot be stolen.  These are all based on the death and resurrection or Jesus.  They are given by your ascended Savior who cannot be removed from his throne.  His kingdom endures forever, and the ascended king rules by grace which always brings forgiveness, always delivers from death, and always marks us for heaven. 
     He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. (Apostles' Creed)  Just as we have a man who has conquered death, giving mankind victory over the grave, so now we also have a man who dwells in the very presence of God.  Since he has united us to himself, we will also dwell with him.  There we will finally have our Paradise.  For, in the everlasting kingdom of God, there will be no more wars or rumors of war, no famines, no earthquakes, no tornadoes, no blind, no deaf, no temptation, no sin, and no death.  There, Jesus will make all things right, and will even make sense of whatever it is you had to endure in this world.  But until that day, do not fear.  For, your ascended king lives and reigns.  He rules by grace.  He lives and reigns forever.  For you.

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

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Prayer for Ascension Day

PRAYER FOR THE FESTIVAL OF 
THE ASCENSION OF OUR LORD

M: Blessed Jesus, you ascended to the right hand of your Father’s majesty, power, and glory and now reign as eternal King of kings and Lord of lords.
C: We praise you for your victory over sin, death, Satan, and hell.

M: O ascended Prophet, equip your Church to proclaim the precious gospel message of God’s love for all the world.
C: Give courage to our hearts, power to our words, and success to our efforts.

M: O ascended High Priest, represent us before the Father as his own dear children and heirs.  Defend us against Satan’s every accusation.  Ask for the Father’s rich blessings in our everyday lives.
C: Plead for his mercy and grace on our behalf.

M: O ascended King, direct the affairs of governments and nations that they may serve the best interest of your Church.
C: You are our Lord, Master, and King.

Special prayers and intercessions may follow.

M: Hear us, Lord, as we bring you our private petitions.

Silent prayer.

M: As the disciples lifted their eyes to watch your ascension, so lift our eyes daily to look for your coming again in glory.
C: Lord Jesus, come quickly.  Amen.

Update from Good Shepherd (May 30, 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.

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. 


EVANGELISM COMMITTEE MEETING
         In order to make the most of opportunities to proclaim the Gospel in our community, we need to budget our expenses and our time.  We will be meeting to determine our plans and to pray that God will bless them.  Our next Evangelism Committee meeting will be Sunday, June 2 at 11:15 AM.  All members are encouraged to participate in our Evangelism efforts, whether on the committee or not.  But we do need people who are willing to be on the committee to plan.


OPEN FORUM / VOTERS' MEETING
        On Sunday, June 9 after church, we will have an Open Forum and Voters' Meeting.  The main focus of our Open Forum will be long-range planning and discussing the steps we will need to make in the remainder of this year in order to make our congregation as productive as we can in serving our community with the Gospel.  All confirmed members of Good Shepherd are encouraged to join us.  The Voters' Meeting will take place immediately following the Open Forum.

VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL
The dates for our Vacation Bible School have been solidified for this summer.  We will meet Monday-Wednesday (6:30 – 8:00 PM), July 29-31.  This is a change from our regular VBS schedule.
Also changed will be the focus of our VBS.  Rather than limit the study of the Bible to our children (and guests), we want people of all ages to join us.  So, 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.
While our target audience is our congregation, 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 (more necessary for the children's VBS).

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

==============================
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
+   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +
Divine Services -- Sundays at 10:00 AM

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Sermon -- 6th Sunday of Easter (May 26, 2019)


JOHN 14:23-29

JESUS GIVES PEACE
YOU CAN BE SURE OF.

M: Alleluia!  Christ is risen!
Cong:  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

In the name + of Jesus.

     In preparing his apostles for life after his ascension into heaven, Jesus had a lot to say.  St. John dedicated five chapters of his Gospel to record what Jesus taught his disciples on the night he was betrayed.  After Jesus' departure, the disciples would understandably feel at a loss without Jesus there to personally instruct, correct, admonish, and encourage his people.  What's more, Jesus was going to entrust the apostles with that task.  They would not feel up to it.  Jesus is the Son of God, the Word made flesh, and the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  The apostles were not.  Often times, they did not grasp what Jesus was saying.  What hope did they have of being the teachers of the Church?  And then for us—what confidence do we have that they got it right?
     Jesus has answered those questions and alleviates our fears.  He told the disciples: “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you.  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:25-26)  Jesus gives peace you can be sure of.
     First of all, we must recognize who Jesus spoke these words to.  He addressed them to his apostles.  He has not told every Christian that he will pour his Holy Spirit directly into us to reveal special things just for us.  Nor does the Holy Spirit give each of us our own personal Gospel to believe.  All that Jesus says he intends for all to hear and believe.  It has become trendy for people to claim, “I am opposed to organized religion; but I am spiritual.”  Spiritual people tend to craft their own truths, as if they have a connection to the Holy Spirit apart from the Bible.  Their faith is more in their own thoughts, feelings, and dreams than in anything else.  They are so filled with their own spirituality that they assume their opinions are God's opinions and their feelings are God's will.
     This produces a great sense of ego and importance—that your thoughts are God's thoughts.  But consider this: How do you know your thoughts are God's thoughts?  What is the source of your confidence?  How can you be sure that you have peace with God?  You might assume it.  You may even insist that you feel it deep down inside you.  You may feel so enlightened and enamored with how deep your thoughts are.  But if this is what makes you spiritual, then know that this is from a different spirit than the Holy Spirit.  In fact, this is rebellion.  This is not approaching God's word with humility.  It is not relying on God's word at all.  Those who claim to be spiritual exalt themselves and stand in judgment over God and his word.  In other words, it is idolatry of oneself.  The Holy Spirit does not give you words which apply uniquely to you.  The Holy Spirit has been given by Jesus to reveal in the Scriptures what is God's word for all people of every age.
     The Lord comes to you in no other way than through his word.  That is the word Jesus gave to his apostles.  Jesus told them, “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you.” (John 14:25)  Jesus' words are supreme.  Only faith in Jesus' words save and give life.  If you are going to believe in Jesus' words, then you must know and be sure of what Jesus said.  Therefore, Jesus continued: “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26)  Once again, Jesus does not put it upon you to determine what is truth.  Jesus assigned his apostles the task of teaching and preaching his words.  The apostles put Jesus' words in writing for future generations to hear, to know, and to believe.  Jesus gave his Holy Spirit to them so that did not have to work from faulty memories or get creative in their story-telling.  The Holy Spirit reminded them of the very words of Jesus and guided them to write the very words of God for your life and salvation.  What was true for them is true for you.  What stood firm then still stands firm now.  This is why Jesus gives peace you can be sure of. 
     Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)  Jesus gives peace you can be sure of, and only Jesus gives such peace.  The world is neither reliable nor honest.  The world only gives to you when it can get something out of you.  If you are rich, famous, or productive, the world deems you valuable.  In fact, it gushes over you and regards you as an authority on matters you don't even know about.  But when you become nameless, poor, or your skills diminish, the world casts you aside.  If you have nothing to give, the world tells you that you no longer have value or worth.  It tells you that you are a drain on society.  This is not what Jesus thinks of you at all.
     The Lord Jesus came into this world not to get something out of you, but to give up everything for you.  He came to establish peace between you and God.  You and I have every reason to fear God.  Our sin has destroyed peace with God.  We confess this every week: “I have done what is evil and I have failed to do what is good.  For this I deserve your punishment, both now and in eternity.”  This is an honest assessment of what we deserve for serving our own sinful desires rather than God's commands.  Whether you consider yourself spiritual or not, we have all turned from God's ways to our own.  This is both idolatry and rebellion.  That cannot be ignored.  And it wasn't.  Instead, Jesus took into himself all of our sins and wickedness, and he endured the wrath of God in our place.  The Father unloaded the full curse on his Son and poured out all his fiery wrath at the cross.  Jesus diverted God's wrath from you to himself.  You, on the other hand, are forgiven.  Jesus did not do this to get something out of us, but to bring us into his kingdom.  There is peace between God and man.  God's favor rests upon you.  So, “let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27) 
     Jesus gives you peace you can be sure of.  You don't have to guess or hope or presume to know where you stand with God.  Jesus has given words for you to take to heart so that you will not be left with doubt.  You do not have to try to make yourself all spiritual, as if good vibes and warm fuzzies prove anything.  Instead, you have the very words of God, given by the Holy Spirit through the apostles.  Jesus declared: “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you.  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:25-26)  And what Jesus said, the apostles have written for us.  In this way, Jesus gives peace you can be sure of.
     Therefore, life in the Church right after Jesus' ascension is the same now.  The word is just as true.  The Holy Spirit comes through that same word.  Jesus delivers his peace through that word.  While we do not have the flesh and blood Jesus preaching to us, we do have the words of our Lord recorded to teach us, to enlighten us, to encourage us, to comfort us, and to correct us.  The Church continues to rally around these words, just as Jesus said his people would do.  Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23)  We cling to these words so that we will be sure of the peace Jesus delivers to us.  For, we still commit sins.  We still fall into temptation.  We still need to confess our sins.  And for all of this, Jesus does not disown or dismiss us.  Jesus' word declares that God's peace still rests upon us.  The blood of Jesus still cleanses us.  The Holy Spirit still dwells in us.  The Father still calls us his beloved children.  We are still heirs of heaven.
     Jesus gives us peace we can be sure of.  He delivers it in his words.  We rally to hear them, study them, ponder them, and take them to heart because by them, Jesus gives us life and salvation.  They are the focal point of our worship, the foundation of our life, and the assurance of eternal glory.  Through them, God has come to make his home with us so that, when our time on earth ends, we will have a home with our Lord forever.  This is not fantasy; it is Jesus' promise.  This is the peace we can be sure of.

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

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Update from Good Shepherd (May 23, 2019)

Greetings!


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

        Our first Thursday service for the summer schedule will be Thursday, May 23 at 7:00 PM.  (There will not be a service on Thursday, July 4.)  Sunday School & Sunday's Adult Bible Class will be on hiatus throughout the summer.  They will resume on September 8.

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. 

ADULT BIBLE CLASS REGARDING SUICIDE
        "And She Was A Christian" is a book that was written by Pastor Peter Preus, a Lutheran pastor whose wife committed suicide.  What hope is there for those who commit suicide?  Is it an unforgivable sin?  Is it the fast-track to hell?  What comfort can be given to those who grieve over the loss of their loved one?  How does one handle guilt, blame, or the shame of being associated with one who has killed himself?  Sadly, too many people have acquaintance with such a tragic death.  
        Our final session will be Wednesday, May 29, 7:00-8:30 PM.  The focus of this final session will be: The Case Against the Suicide (Suicide and Grace)
        If you are interested in the book, "And She Was A Christian," ($25 each), please speak to Pastor Schroeder.  (Or  you can order your own through the link.)

EVANGELISM COMMITTEE MEETING
In order to make the most of opportunities to proclaim the Gospel in our community, we need to budget our expenses and our time.  We will be meeting to determine our plans and to pray that God will bless them.  Our next Evangelism Committee meeting will be Sunday, June 2 at 11:15 AM.  All members are encouraged to participate in our Evangelism efforts, whether on the committee or not.  But we do need people who are willing to be on the committee to plan.

OPEN FORUM / VOTERS' MEETING
        On Sunday, June 9 after church, we will have an Open Forum and Voters' Meeting.  The main focus of our Open Forum will be long-range planning and discussing the steps we will need to make in the remainder of this year in order to make our congregation as productive as we can in serving our community with the Gospel.  All confirmed members of Good Shepherd are encouraged to join us.  The Voters' Meeting will take place immediately following the Open Forum.

VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL
The dates for our Vacation Bible School have been solidified for this summer.  We will meet Monday-Wednesday (6:30 – 8:00 PM), July 29-31.  This is a change from our regular VBS schedule.
Also changed will be the focus of our VBS.  Rather than limit the study of the Bible to our children (and guests), we want people of all ages to join us.  So, 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.
While our target audience is our congregation, we encourage you to invite friends to our VBS sessions—both children and adults.  Look for registration forms on our web page to indicate your participation (more necessary for the children's VBS).

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

==============================
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
+   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +
Divine Services -- Sundays at 10:00 AM

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Summer Schedule begins

The unofficial beginning of summer is Memorial Day weekend.  That often means people will be traveling on the weekends for vacations, weddings, family reunions, etc....  Unfortunately, it also means that people will not be in church on Sundays.

In order to accommodate summer plans so that you will not have to miss church, we will have our summer schedule for Divine Services.  Throughout the summer, beginning May 23, we will offer Thursday evening services at 7:00 PM.  These services will precede the Sunday service so that you can begin your weekend with God's Word and Sacrament.  (NOTE: We will not have a Service on Thursday, July 4.)  Of course, our regular Sunday Divine Service continues to meet at 10:00 AM.

In the event that you are out of town and are looking for a church to attend at your destination, you can always find a local WELS congregation through the WELS website.  There, you can get directions and information from the Church Locator.  You may still want to call the church you will be attending to confirm worship times, as they can vary from what is listed on the WELS web page.

Sunday School and Sunday morning Adult Bible Class are now on hiatus throughout the summer.  They will resume on Sunday, September 8.