Sunday, November 17, 2019

Sermon -- 3rd Sunday of End Times: Saints Triumphant (November 17, 2019)

ISAIAH 65:17-25

ALL THINGS WILL BE RENEWED, RESTORED, AND MADE RIGHT.

In the name + of Jesus.

     Genesis, chapter 1, verse 1: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”  Genesis, chapter 1, verse 31: “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”  We believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.  God made a physical world with water and stones and soil and bones and flesh.  And God made it perfect and flawless.  But it is not so anymore, and God is certainly not at fault.  The world was corrupted when man brought sin and death into the world.  The heaven and the earth no longer function as God created them to be. 
     God still loves his creation.  Even though it has been corrupted, it has not been stripped of God's love and blessing.  Rain still waters the earth.  The earth still produces crops and fruit.  Animals are amazing and beautiful.  People still retain some semblance of justice and compassion.  But it has all been corrupted.  While rain still waters the earth, we have to endure snow storms, droughts, and floods.  While the earth still produces food, we have concerns about rotting crops, e-coli, and listeria.  Animals may be amazing and beautiful, but they can also be deadly.  People may retain some semblance of justice and compassion, but they still lie, cheat, steal, exploit, and demand the rights to abort their babies.  It has all been corrupted, and we see it with every tear, every act of terror, every illness, and every death. 
     The heaven and the earth no longer function as God created them to be.  Isaiah referred to this when he said, “They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat.” (Isaiah 65:22)  Israel knew what it was to work hard only to be invade and oppressed and to have other people enjoy the fruits of their labors.  But even when we get to enjoy the fruits of our labors, sin makes us discontented with our lives.  How often does our daily routine seem futile?  We go to work and wonder if we really produce anything useful at all.  We buy nice homes, only to have to continually repair them.  We want to make a difference in the world, and are disappointed that we barely even get noticed.  Is that all there is to life—go to work, make money, and die?  We want our life to mean more than that.
     The heaven and earth no longer function as God created them to be.  Isaiah referred to this when he spoke of “the sound of weeping and the cry of distress,” and “an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days” and “[bearing] children for calamity.” (Isaiah 65:19-20,23)  God did not create people to taste the bitterness of tears and heartache.  It was not God's plan for people to die—whether in nursing homes or children's hospitals.  But the world is corrupt.  All people are sinners.  And the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)   
     The heaven and earth no longer function as God created them to be.  Isaiah referred to this when he spoke of the wolf and the lion being next to the sheep and the ox.  Unless you are planning on feeding the sheep and the ox to the wolf and the lion, you don't put them together.  Adam had a brief time when the animals were not divided into predator and prey.  They all came before him so that he could name them.  He did not fear fangs or claws or venom.  But not anymore.  Zoos have barriers and cages for a reason.  People don't treat predators as pets.  The world has become corrupt, and violence is seen not just among mankind, but even in the animal kingdom.
     The heaven and earth no longer function as God created them to be.  Isaiah referred to this when he talked about people being for joy and gladness.  But our hearts do not exult in other people.  We have been on one end or the other with rivalry and jealousy and annoyance and road rage.  But worse that dysfunctional families and bitter enemies among mankind is the ruined relationship between God and man.  The heaven and earth no longer function as God created them to be because of man's sin, but we fault God when we suffer the consequences of man's sin.  We treat God as our underling—criticizing his wisdom and demanding answers for what he does!  The creation mocks its Creator, and then is shocked and offended when God speaks words of judgment for our rebellion.  Repent.  We are sinners.  That is not God's doing.
     The heavens and the earth no longer function as God created them to be.  And yet, God still loves his creation.  He continues to supply all creatures with what they need to live.  The rains still fall.  The ground still produces.  The beauty of animals and flowers and mountains are still there.  But God has done much more than give us food to eat and pretty pictures to take.  He assures you that life is not boiled down to some futile trip to the grave.  God has acted to make all things renewed, restored, and right again.
     In love for his creation, God made himself one with mankind.  He became part of his creation in order to redeem his creation.  Jesus is the man who takes for mankind everything that has incurred God's wrath.  He bears all guilt, takes up all shame, and suffers for all wickedness.  The creation itself voiced its curse over Jesus as the sun stopped shining when he hung from the cross and when the earth quaked upon his death.  Jesus died on behalf of a dying world in order to bring its release from death and decay.  The Lord does not despise the physical world.  He acted to redeem it and all things in it.  Jesus has assured you that your life is no relentless march to the grave.  Thanks to Jesus, all things will be renewed, restored, and made right.
     This is what the Lord says: “Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.  But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create...” (Isaiah 65:17-18)  Jesus not only delivers you from the guilt of sin and the power of death; Jesus also shall deliver you to a kingdom which abounds in glory, where heaven and earth will function as God created them to be.
     All things will be renewed, restored, and made right.  Isaiah declares it.  No more will anyone have his life cut short or even cut off.  No longer will anyone weep or cry out in distress.  No longer will God's blessings be snatched away, worn out, or lost.  No longer will anyone be destined for calamity.  No longer will God's creation have groups of predators and prey.  No more will we face any threat from an enemy, no jealousy from an acquaintance, and no disappointment from a friend.  No one will let us down or put us down.  No more will we suffer shame or regret.  In fact, we will not even remember the shame or regrets of the past.  For, as Isaiah declares it: “The former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.” (Isaiah 65:17)  As surely as the Lord has removed all charges from your account, so also he will remove any memory of them from your mind.
     All things will be renewed, restored, and made right.  At the resurrection, the Lord Jesus will raise you up from the grave with renewed and restored bodies.  And all will be made right.  That means we will never suffer an aching back, an annoying itch, a seasonal allergy, or the frailty that comes with age.  All things will be made right—not only in regard to physical weakness, but also in regard to spiritual weakness.  You will delight in all that is good.  You will be treated perfectly by your fellow saints, and you will find great joy in doing good to them.  You will not only be free from the guilt of sin, you will be free from any temptations to sin.  For the Lord says, “Be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness.  I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people...” (Isaiah 65:18-19)  
     “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)  In the end, God will make a new heavens and a new earth.  And it will be very good.  Best of all, we will dwell with the God who loved us enough to create us and bless us, to suffer and die for us, to come to dwell among us so that we could dwell forever with him.  The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have cleansed us and set us apart for everlasting glory and goodness.  We will forever get to marvel at God's glory and grace.  We will forever have all things renewed and restored.  It will forever be good and right.  The new heavens and the new earth will be exactly what God had designed them to be.  And God has designed our salvation so that we will be there—renewed, restored, and made right.

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

Friday, November 15, 2019

A Pastoral Concern -- Appreciating our Lutheran heritage even more and more-r

Here is the 3rd video from "The Ten Minute Bible Hour."  This "ten minutes" lasts about 38 minutes.  It is a very good confession made by Pastor Will Weedon concerning Lutheran doctrine and practice, especially in regards to why Lutherans are not American evangelicals.  Evangelicals might think that these differences are meaningless.  Lutherans say these differences are all about the gospel and how God delivers his grace to us.  The gulf between the two cannot be ignored or dismissed.

Here is the 3rd video.  Be sure to watch the others (#1) here and (#2) here.  And share these.


Thursday, November 14, 2019

Update from Good Shepherd (November 14, 2019)

Greetings!


REGULAR SCHEDULE
        Divine Services are Sundays at 10:00 AM.
        Sunday School is on Sundays at 8:45 AM.
        Adult Bible Class is on Sundays at 8:45 AM and Wednesdays at 6:30 PM.
        Adult Bible Class will be working our way through the books of 1 & 2 Samuel, seeing how God continued to preserve his plan of salvation.  We will give special attention to the prophet Samuel and to the kings, Saul and David.  NOTE: Sunday morning and Wednesday evening are the same class.

CALL FOR NAMES – SAINTS TRIUMPHANT (November 17)
Every year, we remember the names of loved ones who have died in the Christian faith, praising God for the mercy he has had upon them and thanking God for preserving them in that saving faith throughout their life.  Normally, the names of these departed souls are recalled in a prayer on All Saints' Day, which is November 1.  Since Good Shepherd does not have a specific All Saints' Day service, we transfer this prayer and these remembrances to the 3rd Sunday of End Times which focuses on Saints Triumphant.
Members of Good Shepherd who have been called to eternal rest this past year are automatically included.  Members of Good Shepherd, you may also submit the names of your own loved ones who have died in the Christian faith between November 18, 2018 and November 17, 2019. When submitting these names, please included
1.  the name of the deceased
2.  your name
3.  how he/she was related to you
4.  the dates of his/her birth and death, if known
All names submitted by Thursday, November 14 will be listed in the bulletin.  Names may still be submitted as late as Sunday morning, but will not be printed in the bulletin.
The prayer which will be spoken on the Sunday of Saints Triumphant is listed below.

PRAYER FOR ALL SAINTS’ DAY
M: Almighty God, today we recall with thanksgiving those saints who were taken from us in the Church Militant and carried by the angels to you and the Church Triumphant.  Especially, we give you praise for our departed family and friends who have gone before us in faith and all those who are in our hearts and minds this day: 
(The names of those who are to be remembered are read.)
To these, you have granted eternal rest this past year.  We thank you for giving them new life in Christ while on this earth and for sustaining them in true and saving faith throughout their life.  We praise you for finally giving them the fulfillment of your promises of salvation and eternal life.  Strengthen and sustain us in this saving faith so that we may also join with the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven in joyful praise, peace, and rest forever; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Cong: Amen.


OPEN FORUM / VOTERS' MEETING
        On Sunday, November 24, Good Shepherd will have an Open Forum to present the proposed budget for 2020 and to discuss plans for various committees, in hopes to involve more people in the ministry at Good Shepherd.  All confirmed members are invited and encouraged to participate.  A continental breakfast will be available after church.  The voters of Good Shepherd will meet after church to formally adopt our plans based on our discussions at the Open Forum, and to elect Church Council officers.

THANKSGIVING SERVICE

          Our Thanksgiving Vespers will be on Wednesday, November 27 at 7:00 PM.  God has so freely and generously given us all of our needs – both physical and spiritual.  We recognize his goodness to us in this annual Thanksgiving service.
Note:  Once we get to November 27, the Adult Bible Class which has been running on Wednesdays will be suspended until January. 

MICHIGAN RIGHT TO LIFE PETITION
For the month of November, you will have an opportunity to sign a petition, if you choose, to support a ballot measure which would outlaw the dismemberment of unborn children.  This is different than the heartbeat bill which several states have already passed.  (Michigan, in fact, has a stricter law on the books which is sadly not really enforced.)  This bill, if it should become law, would outlaw the dismembering of unborn children in the process of aborting them.  If you don't know what that really entails, I am sure you can find a description online—viewer beware.  There are several petitions which will be available to sign; be sure you find one which is designated for the county in which you live.
While Good Shepherd, the WELS, and your pastor makes no official endorsement of a particular political party or candidate, we will take a stand on moral issues since God's word deals directly with those.  We believe, teach, and confess that murder is wrong (5th Commandment), even if that is the murder of a person yet unborn.  This petition encourages a law which upholds that belief.  Nevertheless, each individual is free to act (that is, to sign the petition or not) as you choose.

NOTES from Huron Valley Lutheran High School (HVL)
Join HVL’s Mailing List - Go to www.HVLHS.org and click on “Sign up for Newsletter” or call or email the school office at mail@hvlhs.org to be added.

HVL Wreath & Poinsettia Sale
          The order deadline is November 15.  All orders will be delivered to HVL on November 26. HVL Boosters will receive $10 from every purchase. To purchase, or for more information go to our website at www.hvlhs.org or bit.ly/HVLWreathsale. 

OFFICE HOURS
        Regular office hours at Good Shepherd will be Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 9:00 AM – 2:00 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
==============================
SUNDAY SCHOOL -- Sundays at 8:45 AM.
ADULT BIBLE CLASS -- Sundays at 8:45 AM and Wednesdays at 6:30 PM.

DIVINE SERVICES -- Sundays at 10:00 AM

GOOD SHEPHERD’S WEBSITE

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

Monday, November 11, 2019

A Pastoral Concern -- Appreciating our Lutheran heritage even more

I had blogged earlier about Pastor Will Weedon's tour and explanation of his church, which is reflective of Lutheran churches in general.  If you have not watched that video, you can find it linked in my earlier blog post here.

After that tour, the host of the "Ten Minute Bible Hour," sits down with Pastor Weedon to ask about particulars in connection with what Lutherans believe.  Pastor Weedon speaks in particular of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod only briefly, but quickly gets into what is simply the confessional Lutheran approach to doctrine and practice.  It is a good reminder that Lutheran doctrine matters, that it is not an innovation (we are the church catholic), and that it is truly good, right, and salutary to believe, teach, and confess such things.

This portion of the Ten Minute Bible Hour runs just shy of 27 minutes--and it is only the first part of the interview!  It is 27 minutes well spent for your viewing, and I hope it has you longing for part 2 of the interview.  I know I am looking forward to it, and I will link to it when it comes to YouTube.

Enjoy.  And share!



Sunday, November 10, 2019

Sermon -- 2nd Sunday of End Times -- Last Judgment (November 10, 2019)

LUKE 19:11-27

THE KING SEEKS AND REWARDS FAITHFUL SERVANTS.

In the name + of Jesus.

     Jesus told this parable because he was about to enter Jerusalem and the crowds were convinced that his kingdom was about to burst forth and establish glory on earth.  He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return.” (Luke 19:12)  Jesus taught that he would go away for a while and then return.  But it was true that Jesus was going to Jerusalem to establish a kingdom.  Doing so would not look glorious.  Jesus established his kingdom by suffering and dying.  This is the payment that rescues you from sin, judgment, death, and hell.  Your place in the kingdom of God was purchased with blood.  If the crucifixion seems glorious to you, it is only because you know what was won at the cross, and that it was won for you. 
     But Jesus is a king.  He rules over his kingdom.  And you are in it.  You do not have to wait for the forgiveness of sins.  You are not waiting for a living faith which goes forth to live a godly life.  You are already children of God, and you are already have the benefits of being in his kingdom.  You are not in glory yet.  As long as the king is away and we are awaiting his return, he gives us work to do.  This work is not being done because it will save you; it is to be done by those who are already saved.  The king seeks faithful servants.
      Jesus said, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return.  Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’  …  When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business.” (Luke 19:12-13,15)  A mina is simply a coin of a certain weight.  It is about 3 month's wages, so it is quite valuable.  Each servant received the same, one mina each.  Whether the mina represents our faith, our service, or our goods, it does not really matter.  They are all intertwined in God's kingdom.  You are a servant of whatever it is God has given you to do.  And our king seeks faithful servants in his kingdom.
     Upon the king's return, there was an assessment of his subjects.  He summoned each to report on their service for the king.  Only three replies are recorded.  The first confessed not, “I earned ten more minas,” but “Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.” (Luke 19:16)  It was not the servant who did the works the king desired, but it was the mina.  In the same way, it is not we who can boast that we are doing the works of the Lord.  For, this is what the Lord says: “It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)  The king seeks faithful servants.  First, he grants you a living faith, then he works through you by that living faith, and then he rewards you for the faith he has given you and for the works he has done through you.  The king seeks and rewards faithful servants.
     The third servant serves as a warning for us all.  He, too, received a mina, and he was also given the instruction, “Engage in business until I come.” (Luke 19:13)  But he didn't.  When the king summoned him to give an account, he responded: “Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man.  You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.” (Luke 19:20-21)  Even though the king had given this servant the mina, the servant insisted that the king was thief for benefiting from his labors.  So, rather than do anything with his mina, he buried it.
     The king called him a wicked servant; for he did not do what he was given to do.  We agree with the king's assessment in the parable, but we hesitate to make the same judgment in real life.  It is God who has given us all that we have and are.  More than just creating us, God has also redeemed us and brought us into his kingdom of grace.  He has given us a living faith and calls us to serve him according to his word.  No longer are we to engage in sin and to do the works of the devil; we are to be devoted to good works which honor our God and serve our neighbor.  Our service is not to gain God's favor; we already have that.  Rather, we serve because that is what a living faith does.  A faith that does nothing will not be rewarded.
     Jesus promised us: “I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit...” (John 15:5)  If we remain in God's word—that is, listening to it, taking it to heart, and being conformed to it—we will bear much fruit.  A living faith will show itself and do the works God seeks.  Even though the wicked servant was given a living faith, he buried it.  He was negligent and lazy and was even offended that the king expected something out of him.  But this is why we need to abide in Jesus and his word.  We all grow weary of doing the work God gives us to do.  Often it is because we don't see the reward.  We wonder, “What's the point?  Why put my faith to work when it doesn't pay?”  We must abide in his word for the mina to produce.  We want to feed our faith for it to remain alive, grow, and produce.  Otherwise we wonder, “Why should I forgive that guy when he sins against me?”  And we remember, “Oh, that's right, because my Savior continually forgives me even though I sin against him.”  “Why should I be patient with that guy when he gets on my nerves?  Oh, that's right, because my Lord is ever patient with me in my weaknesses.”  “Why should I risk confessing my faith to someone who would only mock me for it?  Oh, that's right, because when we were still enemies of Christ, he died for us.”  “Why should I be generous and kind to somebody who will never pay me back?  Oh, yeah, because God is always generous and kind to me and I can never even begin to pay him back.”  Through his word, our Lord continues to strengthen us, to encourage us, and to produce in us both to will and to work according to his good pleasure.  “Apart from me,” Jesus warns, “you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)  But if we remain in Christ, we will bear fruit and be the faithful servants he seeks.  And on the Last Day, the reward will be given.
     The king seeks and rewards faithful servants.  The king grants the mina, and the mina produces what the king looks for.  In other words, the Lord grants you saving faith and works good works in you by that living faith.  And the Lord rewards you for what he has given you.  The Lord grants you faith, and the Lord makes and keeps you faithful as long as you abide in him.  It is all God's doing so that your salvation is by pure grace.
     The king seeks and rewards faithful servants.  The servants did not receive their commendation from the king until he had returned.  In the same way, we continue to serve, but we will not see our reward until Jesus returns to judge the living and the dead.  You may wonder how you are doing with your service.  You may notice some Christians who seem to be accomplishing amazing things, and you may wonder if you are really measuring up.  You may even wonder if you will qualify as faithful.
     Two servants appeared before the king.  The first said, “'Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’  … And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.'” (Luke 19:18-19)  And the king commended both and rewarded them.  He did not criticize or question the servant who came with five fewer minas.  Both had produced good works.  Jesus' promise stands: “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit...” (John 15:5)  And Jesus does not add a quota onto that.  You might think of two mothers who prepare meals for their children.  One spends all afternoon preparing a gourmet, seven-course meal for her children, and the other serves them whatever was put into the Happy Meal bag.  While some might say that one mother did better work, the children of each mother would simply say, “Mom fed us dinner tonight.”  Faithful service in the kingdom of God does not need to be world-changing or life-altering.  It simply is doing what God gives you to do.  God seeks this kind of service and rewards his faithful servants.
     Jesus has established a kingdom, and he has brought you into it by giving you a living faith.  He gives us all work to do, and he works in us to will and to work according to his good pleasure.  For, it is not our works or merits which save us.  Jesus is the one who saves.  He is the faithful Savior who has worked in us saving faith.  And his word makes it living and active.  Do not grow weary in doing good.  Your reward and your glory are soon to come.  For your king is coming, and he will bring you into his glorious kingdom to live and reign with him forever.

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

Friday, November 8, 2019

The history of Novi -- How Novi became a city

Novi celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.  Below is a video about how Novi Township became the city of Novi in 1969.



Thursday, November 7, 2019

Update from Good Shepherd (November 7, 2019)

Greetings!


REGULAR SCHEDULE
        Divine Services are Sundays at 10:00 AM.
        Sunday School is on Sundays at 8:45 AM.
        Adult Bible Class is on Sundays at 8:45 AM and Wednesdays at 6:30 PM.
        Adult Bible Class will be working our way through the books of 1 & 2 Samuel, seeing how God continued to preserve his plan of salvation.  We will give special attention to the prophet Samuel and to the kings, Saul and David.  NOTE: Sunday morning and Wednesday evening are the same class.

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, November 10 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.

STEWARDSHIP COMMITTEE MEETING
          Our next Stewardship Committee meeting will be Sunday, November 10 at 11:15 AM.  The main purpose of our Stewardship Committee right now is to coordinate events to foster the bonds of fellowship among our members and to serve our community as well.  While we can come up with ideas, it is important that congregation is on board with these ideas to make them beneficial for us and for others.  In other words, we need your participation to make these events go well.  Got an idea?  Willing to make some phone calls?  Want to see our congregation more energetic and vibrant?  Then you can help.  Join us on Sunday, November 10 after church.

CALL FOR NAMES – SAINTS TRIUMPHANT (November 17)
Every year, we remember the names of loved ones who have died in the Christian faith, praising God for the mercy he has had upon them and thanking God for preserving them in that saving faith throughout their life.  Normally, the names of these departed souls are recalled in a prayer on All Saints' Day, which is November 1.  Since Good Shepherd does not have a specific All Saints' Day service, we transfer this prayer and these remembrances to the 3rd Sunday of End Times which focuses on Saints Triumphant.
Members of Good Shepherd who have been called to eternal rest this past year are automatically included.  Members of Good Shepherd, you may also submit the names of your own loved ones who have died in the Christian faith between November 18, 2018 and November 17, 2019. When submitting these names, please included
1.  the name of the deceased
2.  your name
3.  how he/she was related to you
4.  the dates of his/her birth and death, if known
All names submitted by Thursday, November 14 will be listed in the bulletin.  Names may still be submitted as late as Sunday morning, but will not be printed in the bulletin.
The prayer which will be spoken on the Sunday of Saints Triumphant is listed below.

PRAYER FOR ALL SAINTS’ DAY
M: Almighty God, today we recall with thanksgiving those saints who were taken from us in the Church Militant and carried by the angels to you and the Church Triumphant.  Especially, we give you praise for our departed family and friends who have gone before us in faith and all those who are in our hearts and minds this day: 
(The names of those who are to be remembered are read.)
To these, you have granted eternal rest this past year.  We thank you for giving them new life in Christ while on this earth and for sustaining them in true and saving faith throughout their life.  We praise you for finally giving them the fulfillment of your promises of salvation and eternal life.  Strengthen and sustain us in this saving faith so that we may also join with the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven in joyful praise, peace, and rest forever; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Cong: Amen.


OPEN FORUM / VOTERS' MEETING

On Sunday, November 24, Good Shepherd will have an Open Forum to present the proposed budget for 2020 and to discuss plans for various committees, in hopes to involve more people in the ministry at Good Shepherd.  All confirmed members are invited and encouraged to participate.  A continental breakfast will be available after church.  The voters of Good Shepherd will meet after church to formally adopt our plans based on our discussions at the Open Forum, and to elect Church Council officers.

MICHIGAN RIGHT TO LIFE PETITION
For the month of November, you will have an opportunity to sign a petition, if you choose, to support a ballot measure which would outlaw the dismemberment of unborn children.  This is different than the heartbeat bill which several states have already passed.  (Michigan, in fact, has a stricter law on the books which is sadly not really enforced.)  This bill, if it should become law, would outlaw the dismembering of unborn children in the process of aborting them.  If you don't know what that really entails, I am sure you can find a description online—viewer beware.  There are several petitions which will be available to sign; be sure you find one which is designated for the county in which you live.
While Good Shepherd, the WELS, and your pastor makes no official endorsement of a particular political party or candidate, we will take a stand on moral issues since God's word deals directly with those.  We believe, teach, and confess that murder is wrong (5th Commandment), even if that is the murder of a person yet unborn.  This petition encourages a law which upholds that belief.  Nevertheless, each individual is free to act (that is, to sign the petition or not) as you choose.

NOTES from Huron Valley Lutheran High School (HVL)
Join HVL’s Mailing List - Go to www.HVLHS.org and click on “Sign up for Newsletter” or call or email the school office at mail@hvlhs.org to be added.

HVL Wreath & Poinsettia Sale
          The order deadline is November 15.  All orders will be delivered to HVL on November 26. HVL Boosters will receive $10 from every purchase. To purchase, or for more information go to our website at www.hvlhs.org or bit.ly/HVLWreathsale. 

OFFICE HOURS
        Regular office hours at Good Shepherd will be Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 9:00 AM – 2:00 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 -- Sundays at 10:00 AM

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Sermon -- For the Funeral of Reinhardt Shier (November 6, 2019)

This sermon for the Christian Funeral of Reinhardt Carlton Shier (May 29, 1937 – November 1, 2019) was preached at Sullivan & Son Funeral Home in Royal Oak, Michigan.

1 THESSALONIANS 4:13-18
YOU HAVE A HOPE THAT IS GREATER THAN DEATH.

In the name + of Jesus.

     St. Paul does not waste any time getting to the promises and comfort Jesus gives us when we are staring death in the face.  He says to the Christians in Thessalonica, “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13)  And you should not be uninformed about this either. 
     When you are grieving at the loss of a husband, a father, a grandfather, or a friend, feelings rule.  You feel the fondness you have for one so dear to you, and you share the memories of traveling, of photographs, and of the stories that make you smile and laugh.  It is good the share those memories.  You love your loved one for a good reason.  But you also feel the pain of separation.  You feel the helplessness of wanting to restore what has been broken.  You are saddened by what death does, and it feels much worse when death takes a loved one.
     “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep...” (1 Thessalonians 4:13)  The reason death comes to all people is because all people are sinful.  No one is perfect, no matter how much you love them.  God does not demand that we be good enough; he demands holiness.  Close enough does not work in our world either.  Reinhardt loved trains.  When he put together a model, the tracks had to be precisely the right width.  You can't stick an N-scale train on HO-scale tracks.  And if we are talking about a regular train, imperfect tracks will mean a derailment.  If it isn't perfect, it fails.  So it is with all people.  God demands that we be perfect, and no one is.  We are not even close enough.  Therefore, sin claims us all as the Bible teaches: “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23)  That is why all people end up dying.  While you may feel sad and helpless, you are not without hope.
     You have a hope that is greater than death.  St. Paul explains why: “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Thessalonians 4:14)  We believe Jesus died, and that matters only because we know why Jesus died.  As we said before, sin is the reason people die.  But God loves his creation.  He is not willing to see us subject to death and hell.  Therefore, he sent his Son into the world to save sinners.  Jesus came to take our sins upon himself—to suffer what the guilty deserve and to die a cursed death in our place.  Jesus did not die for any sins he had committed; he was pure and perfect.  But he took credit for our sins and died for us, so the wages of sin have been paid.  In exchange, Jesus has given us the credit for his pure and holy obedience. 
     This is what Jesus gave to Reinhardt when he was baptized.  Baptism washes away sin and bestows the righteousness of Christ.  You should not be uniformed about this, for this is the comfort and security Reinhardt had and which is yours, too.  Neither he nor you have to invent ways to prove that he good enough to set foot in heavenly dwellings with Jesus.  Salvation does not depend on us.  Our feelings don't determine anyone's admission into heaven.  Only the Lord of heaven can do that.  And he does!  The perfection that Reinhardt needed to enter heaven Jesus has supplied in holy baptism.  This is the hope you have which is even greater than death.  For death cannot undo the promises of God.
     I had seen in Reinhardt's obituary that he was known for having a camera with him all the time.  (Actually, I think I mirror his obituary pretty well.)  Reinhardt documented the places he had been with photos.  Photos show you the beauty of the places you've been and the faces you've seen.  Important occasions are marked and then remembered through the pictures.  It is not the same as being there, but at least the photos give you an idea of what to expect.  In the same way, the Bible tells us what we can expect in regard to those who die in the Christian faith.  The Bible does not say we will not grieve.  Our feelings still come out.  Rather, the Bible assures us that, no matter how bad or sad or even made we feel, we still have our hope.
     You have a hope that is greater than death.  And your hope is what St. Paul declares: “Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.  For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord…  The Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God.  And the dead in Christ will rise first.” (1 Thessalonians 4:14-16)   
     The Lord Jesus who died to pay for our sins has risen from the grave.  He has conquered death and lives forever.  As our living Savior, Jesus, holds the power over death and the grave.  Therefore, those who have been baptized into Christ not only receive his forgiveness and his righteousness, we also will partake in the resurrection of the body to live forever with Jesus.  What we see pictured in Jesus' resurrection is what we can expect for Reinhardt and for ourselves.  Just as Jesus rose from the grave and lives in glory, so shall we.  Jesus does not forget those who are his redeemed.  He will come again on the Last Day to raise up all the dead and give eternal life to all who believe in him.
     You have a hope that is greater than death.  Although we use today to say, “Goodbye,” to Reinhardt, we will get him back.  The grave will have to give us all back, too, when the Lord returns with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God.  Our hope is not merely that we live again; our hope is that we live in glory.  The Bible reminds us, “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body....” (Philippians 3:20-21)  In other words, Reinhardt will not be reincarnated to come back to a world of oxygen masks, bone cancer, intensive care units, pain, sorrow, and death.  He will be raised up with a glorious body which is fit for eternal life in the heavenly kingdom.  He will be raised up body and soul incorruptible and imperishable.  That means he will live without sin, without disease, without pain, without sorrow, and without end.  The very things you prayed he would receive, he will.  And whoever believes and his baptized will receive these things as well.
     This is why you have a hope which is greater than death.  Death has done its worst to Reinhardt, but death does not have the last word.  Jesus does.  Jesus, who destroyed the power of death by his resurrection, will raise him up to live in peace, purity, and perfection forever.  This is the Christian hope.  Not even death can take it away from you.  “Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:18)  

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

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Something from ... Luther's "The Bondage of the Will" (Entry #16)


INTRODUCTORY NOTES:  During the life of Martin Luther, Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus, was urged by Roman Catholic Church leaders to challenge Luther’s teachings and to condemn him.  Although Erasmus would rather have kept the peace in the Church, Erasmus was finally goaded into attacking Luther.  Erasmus intended to defend the official Roman Catholic teaching that God’s grace was needed to do the works by which man could then merit additional grace.  Luther’s response to Erasmus is known as The Bondage of the Will (De Servo Arbitrio).  Although Luther had published a myriad of writings in his career, he did not consider them worth preserving.  Luther regarded The Bondage of the Will as a rare exception to that rule.  In it, Luther writes at length that “free will” in spiritual matters is a lie, and that, if man actually has free will, then God loses such attributes as grace, omnipotence, and even his right to be God.
            The quotations from Luther in this blog post come from The Bondage of the Will translated by J. I. Packer and O. R. Johnston, Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, MI. © 1957.
            The following are thoughts concerning Luther’s arguments, urging us to LET GOD BE GOD.  Something from Luther’s The Bondage of the Will.


LET GOD BE GOD: Let God be just.

            Who do you root for in the cricket leagues in India?

            If you are the average American, you don’t care.  You are not for any team, and you are not against any team.  You are ignorant of all teams and have zero rooting interest in it.  You could not be on more neutral ground.

            It does not work this way with God.  Many people believe that they are neither for God nor against him.  They are not for God because they don’t go to church.  They are not against him because they don’t seek the destruction of the church.  They don’t care.

            But there is no middle ground or neutral territory with God.  You are either in the kingdom of God or you are not.  You either love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength or you don’t.  You either have no other gods, or you do.  You either serve the Lord and give in glory in all you do, or you don’t.  And if God is not guiding your will, then Satan is.  It is either holiness or sin.  There is no middle ground on this.

            As much as we would like to think that we have a free will and can do whatever we want, we don’t.  Even when we want to stop sinning, we still do.  Our will is ruled by sin and Satan.  If we were ruled by God, we could be perfect.  But we are not, and we cannot change it.  Something from Luther on our lack of free will and God’s justice in exposing us as sinners.

            “The truth is rather as Christ puts it: 'He that is not with me is against me' (Matt. 12.30).  He does not say: he that is not with Me is not against Me either, but is in an intermediate position!  For if God is in us, Satan is out of us, and then it is present with us to will only good.  But if God is not in us, Satan is, and then it is present with us to will only evil.  Neither God nor Satan permits there to be in us mere willing in the abstract; but, as you rightly said, we have lost our freedom and are forced to serve sin—that is, we will sin and evil, we speak sin and evil, we do sin and evil.” (page 147)

            If God condemns, it is because he is just.  God does not condemn innocent bystanders who have not made up their minds about him.  All are sinners.  All commit sins.  They cannot change what they are, and so they are rightly condemned as they are.  God is just in this.

            But God is also gracious in this: He saves some.  If you are on God’s side and if you desire to serve and honor God, then understand that it is God who has acted to convert you, to create in you a clean heart, and to renew in you a right spirit.  You did not become a Christian on your own volition, and you do not remain eager to do good through your own volition.  It is God who has saved you and who works in you to will and act according to his good purpose.  So, even as a Christian, you do not have a free will.  You have a will which is guided by the Holy Spirit.  You have a will which is directed by God’s word.  You do not stand on your own and you do not remain in neutral territory.  You are with the Lord because he has brought you to himself.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Sermon -- 1st Sunday of End Times: Reformation (November 3, 2019)

JOHN 8:31-36

JESUS FREES YOU TO BE WHAT GOD CREATED YOU TO BE.

In the name + of Jesus.

     When Jesus called the people he was talking to slaves to sin, they were appalled.  Their land may have been occupied by Roman soldiers, but they were not enslaved to them.  So they protested, “We … have never been enslaved to anyone.  How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” (John 8:33)  Americans are equally appalled to learn that they need Jesus to set them free.  We can pretty much say whatever we want, go wherever we want, and do whatever we want.  We go through our daily routine without being harassed.  There are no check points in our daily commute.  There are no secret police who force us to have our more serious conversations with whispers.
     We also enjoy our freedoms when it comes to the choices we make.  You are not assigned a career or a spouse or a home.  For your vacation, you can choose between the beach, the mountains, or your backyard.  When you leave church, you can go out for brunch, go home, or drive around aimlessly.  We are free to do these things. 
     While we enjoy these freedoms, Satan has sold us some huge lies about what it is to be free.  One lie is that we are free to choose to do the works that please God.  This lie fails to recognize what it means that we are sinners.  Another lie is that real freedom comes from casting off God's word and doing whatever it is you want.  Satan convinces us that God's word is too restrictive, too demanding, and too unreasonable.  To be free, Satan asserts, is to reject God's word and to do whatever makes you happy.  Both are lies, and both lead to hell from which these lies came.
     Jesus addressed the reality of our sinful condition: “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” (John 8:34)  We are sinners, and we are enslaved to sin.  If you need proof, just assess your own thoughts.  Do you assume that people with strange languages and cultures must be bad news?  Do you view your co-worker as a conspirator?  Do you give time to people who hold different opinions than you, or are they immediately disregarded as idiots?  Are addicts and thieves people to be shunned, or are they objects of mercy?  Are those who sin against you regarded in terms of revenge or forgiveness?  Our thoughts are wicked.  We are all turned in on ourselves, devoted to ourselves, and prioritize ourselves, which is idolatry.  This all arises from wicked hearts which we cannot fix.  We are slaves to sin.  God did not create us to be vindictive or vengeful or violent or vicious.  And yet we are.  We are not what God created us to be.  We are not free. 
     The other lie Satan sells us is that freedom—true freedom—is found when we ditch God's word for our own desires.  Adam and Eve bought that lie back in the Garden of Eden.  Satan convinced them that God's word was not good.  He told them that taking the fruit that God forbids would truly enlighten them and set them free.  But their rebellion brought on them shame and guilt.  They were not free from God; they were petrified of him.  By their sin, they introduced into the world disease, disorder, disaster, and decay.  They bound all mankind to death.  No one is free from that.  Such is the freedom Satan promised.  God did not create us to suffer from disasters, disease, disorder, and death.  And yet, that is the world we are stuck in.  We are bound to it, and we cannot escape it or fix it.  We are not what God created us to be.  We are not free. 
     Even though we are slaves to sin, God has not withheld blessings from us.  We all receive temporal blessings from the Lord so that life has its share of happiness, fascination, and comfort.  We get to enjoy a child's laughter, fall colors, music, and rainbows.  God is still good to his creation, but his creation will come to an end.  All people will come under judgment.  The blessings which all mankind have enjoyed will not endure.  In hell, there are no blessings, no relief, and no end.  Therefore, Jesus' words are ominous: “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.  The slave does not remain in the house forever...” (John 8:34-35)  He who dies as a slave to sin will be cast out from God's presence and God's blessings forever.
     The devil tells you lies about what it means to be free.  The devil's “freedom” means shame and curse and death and damnation.  This is not what God created you for, but it is what sin delivers.  Therefore, we need to be delivered from our sin if we would be freed from all its consequences.  And you have a deliverer: For us the Valiant One, whom God himself elected.  Ask ye, who is this?  Jesus Christ it is!  Of Sabaoth Lord, that is, he is the Lord God of hosts, and there's no other God.  God the Son has come into his creation to set his beloved people free from sin, death, and the devil.  Jesus frees you to be what God created you to be.
     Jesus assures you: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.  If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:31-32,36)  The truth is that Jesus sets you free from your sin by taking your sin from you.  In doing so, Jesus bound himself to your shame and curse and death and damnation.  He accepted all of the devil's accusations for our sin and guilt.  He absorbed the full wrath of God.  He died the cursed death to set you free.  You are free from your sins; they do not condemn you.  You are free from the devil; you know the truth from God's word so that his accusations do not stick and so that his temptations are known as lies.  You are even free from death.  The grave may hold you for a while, but it must give you back.  Jesus has fought the fight and conquered death.  He will raise you up at the resurrection to life everlasting.
     Jesus frees you to be what God created you to be.  At the resurrection, Jesus will give you freedom from every stain and consequence of sin.  There will never again be disorder, dishonor, disease, or disaster.  There will not be viciousness or violence or revenge among God's redeemed.  You will never again have struggles against bad behavior, bad habits, or bad people.  You will be forever free from temptation, frustration, and depression.  You will be in perfect harmony with God and his will, have perfect love for your fellow saints, as they will for you.  You will delight in everything which is good and right and pure.  This is what God created you to be, and Jesus frees you to be what God created you to be.
     While you and I are free from sin, death, and the devil thanks to Jesus, we still have not entered the glorious state of the saints in heaven.  We are saints on earth, for that is what Jesus has decreed us to be.  Jesus has freed us to be what God created us to be by making us a new creation.  Through holy baptism, Jesus has put to death the sin in you.  He has created in you a clean heart so that you recognize that God's will is good and right.  And he has renewed in you a right spirit so that you desire to do the good and right things that God has declared.  This is what God has created you to be—godly people with godly desires who do godly works.  That is what we will be perfectly when we get to our heavenly home.  But we are not there yet.  We are weak and our works are not perfect.  We still struggle with temptation.  We still do sinful things, and we fail to do the good things we know we are supposed to do.  The problem is not that we don't know what is good or even that we don't want to do it.  The problem is that this sinful flesh still clings to us.
     That is why we continue in Jesus' word.  He said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. ...If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:31-32,36)  We abide in Jesus' words because he continues to comfort us with words of forgiveness.  Before God, you are not known by your sins, but by your redemption.  Our Lord continues to strengthen us in our battle against sin and temptation.  He continues to encourage us to be faithful while the devil and the world urge us to free ourselves from God's word.  And he continues to preserve us in the true faith so that we remain in the house of God forever. 
     Jesus frees you to be what God has created you to be—godly children in God's family.    That is what we are, by faith in Jesus' promises.  That is what we strive for in our lives.  And that is how we will appear and act and live in the glories of heaven when we are finally forever and perfectly free—free from every evil and free to rejoice in all goodness.

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