Thursday, July 9, 2020

Update from Good Shepherd (July 9, 2020)

Greetings!


WORSHIP DURING COVID-19
        Services will continue to be on Sundays at 10:00 AM.  For information on what you can expect when you come to church and what will be expected of you, see this link.
        Services will still be broadcast on Facebook Live, Sundays at 10:00 AM, and uploaded to YouTube.   Share our services and invite friends to tune in.

GOOD SHEPHERD ON YOUTUBE
         Services are posted on YouTube, usually in a few hours after the service.  When you go to YouTube, do a search for "Good Shepherd Novi" and they should pop up.  (The service from July 5 is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pc6rObWb6X8&t=1s   Feel free to share the videos.
         Bulletins for services can be downloaded from here (scroll down): 

BIBLE INFORMATION CLASS
If you or anyone you know would like to study the Scriptures and learn the basics of the Bible, please contact Pastor Schroeder for a Bible Information Class.  It will be done over Zoom (or in person if you are willing) at your convenience.

GOING OUT OF TOWN THIS SUMMER?
As you make your vacation plans, be sure to include a faithful worship pattern as part of your plans.  In order to find the nearest WELS congregation at your vacation destination, check out the WELS Church Locator at https://yearbook.wels.net/unitsearch . 

SUMMER SERMON SERIES -- TEN WORDS
Our sermons throughout the summer will focus on the Ten Commandments.  For the schedule, see this link.

ADULT BIBLE CLASS – JULY 27-29 (7:00 pm)
COVID-19 restrictions is making a regular VBS impractical, if not impossible, this year.  There will, however, be a three-night virtual Bible Class on Zoom.  It will run Monday-Wednesday evenings at 7:00 PM, July 27-29.  We will be considering the Missionary Journeys of St. Paul.  You may want to read through the book of Acts leading up to the dates for our Bible Class.  Paul's journeys in particular cover Acts 13-21.  Time will not permit an in depth study of all verses, but we will consider how Paul served as a missionary and how we can adapt Paul's mission work to our own setting.  
All are welcome to join us for this class, but registration will be necessary.  Call or text (248-719-5218) or email (welsnovi@aol.com) to get the information for our Zoom sessions.  If you would choose to join us in person, please let the pastor know that so he may be prepared with class materials for you.

CONCERNING PASTORAL CARE
        Online Worship:  Besides Facebook Live and YouTube, you can find the pastor's sermons archived on this blog.  You can use the search bar to find a particular date, day of the Church Year, or Scripture reference.
        Person-to-person care: As much as possible, Pastor Schroeder will be available for private devotions, Holy Absolution, and Holy Communion to members in small groups or to individuals.  You may call to set up an appointment at any time.  Visits by appointment can be done either at church or at your home.
        In case you contract COVID-19:  Please contact Pastor Schroeder.  He will alert the congregation so that your fellow members may pray for you, and he will keep everyone informed of your condition.  If possible, Pastor Schroeder will visit you during your quarantine.  At the very least, he will keep in contact with you and provide devotional materials.  If you want to ask for intercessions for loved ones, we will certainly remember them in our prayers, too.  If your loved one has no pastor, ask if they would like Pastor Schroeder to visit them.  

PRIVATE COMMUNION DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Private Communion is available by appointment at any time.
To limit the risk of contracting COVID-19 as much as possible, please review the protocol we will follow when you come in.  You can see it here.

OFFERINGS
While we may not be meeting for worship, we do have financial obligations to meet.  You may either mail your offering into Good Shepherd, or you can set up your offering to be transferred electronically from your bank.  If you are interested in the automatic transfer of funds for your offering, please contact the church at welsnovi@aol.com .

OFFICE HOURS
The office hours at Good Shepherd are going to be fairly fluid throughout the summer months.  If you want to contact Pastor Schroeder for any kind of meeting, call or text (248) 719-5218.

DO YOU LIKE US?
Look for Good Shepherd on Facebook.  Then “LIKE” us for updates and other postings.  Be sure to share posts with friends.

SHARE THIS POST!
We desire as many as possible to rejoice in the Gospel which we proclaim and confess.  Share the information from our weekly email blast, links to our web page, and even to the pastor's blog to let others know that we have a space in our congregation for them!

God bless you.


In Christ,
Pastor Schroeder
==============================
SUMMER SCHEDULE
DIVINE SERVICES -- Sundays at 10:00 AM  (We also stream on Facebook Live )

GOOD SHEPHERD’S WEBSITE

Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church
41415 W. Nine Mile Road
Novi, Michigan  48375-4306
+   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Bible Class -- The Journeys of St. Paul (July 27-29, 7:00 PM)

THE MISSIONARY JOURNEYS OF ST. PAUL

A three-night virtual Bible Class will be conducted on Zoom.  It will run Monday-Wednesday evenings at 7:00 PM, July 27-29.  We will be considering the Missionary Journeys of St. Paul.  You may want to read through the book of Acts leading up to the dates for our Bible Class.  Paul's journeys in particular cover Acts 13-21.  Time will not permit an in depth study of all verses, but we will consider how Paul served as a missionary and how we can adapt Paul's mission work to our own setting. 
All are welcome to join us for this class, but registration will be necessary.  Call or text (248-719-5218) or email (welsnovi@aol.com) to get the information for our Zoom sessions.  If you would choose to join us in person, please let the pastor know that so he may be prepared with class materials for you.

July 27         First Missionary Journey (Acts 13-14)

July 28         Second Missionary Journey (Acts 16 - 18:23)

July 29         Third Missionary Journey (Acts 18:24 - 21:16)

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Sermon -- TEN WORDS: 1st Commandment (July 5, 2020)

EXODUS 20:3-6

TEN WORDS – THE SECOND WORD.
GOD IS JEALOUS FOR YOU.

In the name + of Jesus.

      The first commandment that God gave has to do with our relationship to him.  He states, “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3)  More to the point, the Lord said that we are not to have any gods in front of his face, or in his presence.  Since God is omnipresent, that means we are to have no other gods at all.  The reason is simple: There are no other gods. 
     Some time ago, I had run across an atheist who boasted that he could prove to anyone that God does not exist.  I did not take him up on his claim, but I suspect that he had some logical argument to prove that there is no grandfatherly-type God in the sky.  His flaw would be how he defines who God is or what a god is.  In his Large Catechism, Martin Luther showed that everyone has a god.  He wrote: “What is God?  A god means that from which we are to expect all good and in which we are to take refuge in distress.  So, to have a God is nothing other than trusting and believing Him with the heart.” (Luther's Large Catechism, The First Commandment, paragraph 2)  It may be the true God or a false god, but everyone puts their trust in something; so everyone has a god. 
     Idols are far more common than we think.  The Lord had warned the people of Israel not to craft their own gods.  “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.  You shall not bow down to them or serve them...” (Exodus 20:4-5)  About a month after the Lord had commanded this and Israel vowed to obey, they crafted a golden calf to worship.  Now, we might commend ourselves for being much smarter and more sophisticated than the Israelites.  While cultures differ, hearts do not.  We, too, craft gods.  Often, our god is just like us.  God likes what we like.  God hates what we hate.  God shares our opinions and moods.  We want the world to dance to the tune we play.  We appoint ourselves the judge of right and wrong.  And we assume that God agrees with us.   In other words, we are our own god.  But if we can't make crops grow or rain fall, if we can cure sickness or prevent death, what kind of god are we?  Do not be deceived.  Satan had first told Adam and Eve that they would be like God if they rebelled against him.  That lie is just as believed today.  Repent.
     “You shall have no other gods before me...  For I the LORD your God am a jealous God...” (Exodus 20:3,5)  It sounds bizarre to have the Lord say he is a jealous God.  Jealousy is not usually a positive trait.  Besides, if the Lord is the maker of heaven and earth and everything in it, he owns all things.  What would he have to be jealous of?  The answer is this: God is jealous for you.
     The Lord God is not willing to let you be deceived by the devil's lie or to put your trust in gods or groups who will fail you.  The Lord your God wants you to know without a doubt that you are to expect every good thing from him and that he is your refuge in every kind of distress.  It is the Lord God who made heaven and earth, who gave you life, and who sustains you with all that you need to live.  God is jealous for you to know that he is the one who provides for you, who protects you, and who disciplines you for your good.  And while God uses common means to bless and keep us—such as parents, government, employers, teachers, doctors, farmers, and friends—God is still the giver of all our gifts.  Without God, we have nothing.
     God is jealous for you, and he desires you to know him rightly.  This is what the Lord says: “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other...” (Isaiah 42:8)  To know the Lord rightly is to give him the glory for who he is and for what he does.  It is to believe that everything God says is true and good for us, and everything God does and permits is done in love.  It is always for our good—even when such things are pricy, painful, and perplexing.  If we fear, love, and trust in anything else—money or medicine or family—and seek from them our good and trust that these will solve our problems, then we have a false god.  All of those things can be lost; therefore, they will all fail us.  But God is jealous; and his wrath stands against people who give his glory to others.
     God is jealous for you.  He does not want you to be deceived by lies or to give in to wicked ideas or deeds.  These always lead to death, and they always incur God's wrath.  Unfortunately, we have been taught not to take that too seriously.  But rebellion has consequences, and not just for ourselves.  This is what the Lord says: “I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me.” (Exodus 20:5)  If people are determined to defy God and refuse to believe his word, God will let them go.  God is not a mugger.  He does not force anyone to receive his grace or a place in his heavenly kingdom.  Those who despise God teach their children to do the same.  Rebels beget rebels.  Parents who hate God, his word, and his church teach their children to do the same.  Parents who give a low priority to God, his word, and his church teach their children that God does not matter.  The result is generations of people who are confirmed in their sin and unbelief. 
     The Lord is a jealous God which also includes his wrath.  But when God reveals his wrath, it is done so that you will realize you need a Savior.  God greatest revelation is the Savior he sent to rescue you from putting your trust in opinions that are not God's word, from giving your love to things that will pass away, and from failing to fear the Lord by making him one of many Sunday morning options.  God is jealous for you—so much so that God became one of us.  Jesus is God in the flesh who has come to rescue us from our iniquity and God's judgment for it.  Jesus took up our iniquity and submitted himself to God's fiery judgment in our place.  Rather than have our sins held against us, Jesus holds up his holy, precious blood and his innocent sufferings and death as the payment for all our sins.  By his death, Jesus has bought us back from sin, death, and the devil so that we are the Lord's.  And since Jesus has conquered death, he gives us a victory over the grave.  Therefore, God does not merely tolerate us.  God desires us to dwell with him for all eternity. 
     God is jealous for you.  He has revealed himself as the God who saves you.  No one else can do this, and God himself says so: “I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior.  I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you; and you are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and I am God.” (Isaiah 43:11-12)  This is the God from whom we can expect all good.  Everything God does, he does to serve your eternal good.  But of course, that does not mean that God promises ease.  We will certainly endure hardships and sorrows in this world.  But in the midst of those, God is a refuge in our distress.  We may be grieved by violence, sickness, or even death, but these cannot snatch us away from God and his salvation. 
     In this world, you will lose many things, even good things.  And if you do not lose them while you live, you will give them up when you die.  But you will never lose God's blessing and salvation.  And he will not give you up even when you die.  On the contrary, he will be your refuge in death and your resurrection to life everlasting.  He will supply you with eternal goods which are far better than all he gives you now.  God wants you to know this because he wants you to trust him.  He does not want to lose you to lies or money or pride or any other false god which will neither comfort nor save you.  God is jealous for you and your salvation.
     Everyone has a god.  Everyone has someone or something which they trust will secure them through good times and bad.  The Lord God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—he has made himself known to you for your good.  He is jealous for you so that you do not put your trust in false gods which cannot comfort or save.  The Lord your God alone is your comfort in life, who alone rescues you from death, and who alone will deliver you into heavenly glory.  God is jealous for you; he loves you and wants you to be his forever. 

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

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Update from Good Shepherd (July 2, 2020)

Greetings!


WORSHIP DURING COVID-19
        Services will continue to be on Sundays at 10:00 AM.  We will not be offering the 8:30 AM service unless the attendance demands it.  For information on what you can expect when you come to church and what will be expected of you, see this link.
        Services will still be broadcast on Facebook Live, Sundays at 10:00 AM, and uploaded to YouTube.   Share our services and invite friends to tune in.

GOOD SHEPHERD ON YOUTUBE
         Services are posted on YouTube, usually in a few hours after the service.  When you go to YouTube, do a search for "Good Shepherd Novi" and they should pop up.  (The service from June 28 is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0Lwn1uZtMM   Feel free to share the videos.
         Bulletins for services can be downloaded from here (scroll down): 

BIBLE INFORMATION CLASS
If you or anyone you know would like to study the Scriptures and learn the basics of the Bible, please contact Pastor Schroeder for a Bible Information Class.  It will be done over Zoom (or in person if you are willing) at your convenience.

GOING OUT OF TOWN THIS SUMMER?
As you make your vacation plans, be sure to include a faithful worship pattern as part of your plans.  In order to find the nearest WELS congregation at your vacation destination, check out the WELS Church Locator at https://yearbook.wels.net/unitsearch . 

SUMMER SERMON SERIES -- TEN WORDS
Our sermons throughout the summer will focus on the Ten Commandments.  For the schedule, see this link.

ADULT BIBLE CLASS – JULY 27-29 (7:00 pm)
COVID-19 restrictions is making a regular VBS impractical, if not impossible, this year.  There will, however, be a three-night virtual Bible Class on Zoom.  It will run Monday-Wednesday evenings at 7:00 PM, July 27-29.  We will be considering the Missionary Journeys of St. Paul.  You may want to read through the book of Acts leading up to the dates for our Bible Class.  Paul's journeys in particular cover Acts 13-28.  Time will not permit an in depth study of all verses, but we will consider how Paul served as a missionary and how we can adapt Paul's mission work to our own setting.  
All are welcome to join us for this class, but registration will be necessary.  Call or text (248-719-5218) or email (welsnovi@aol.com) to get the information for our Zoom sessions.  If you would choose to join us in person, please let the pastor know that so he may be prepared with class materials for you.

CONCERNING PASTORAL CARE
        Online Worship:  Besides Facebook Live and YouTube, you can find the pastor's sermons archived on this blog.  You can use the search bar to find a particular date, day of the Church Year, or Scripture reference.
        Person-to-person care: As much as possible, Pastor Schroeder will be available for private devotions, Holy Absolution, and Holy Communion to members in small groups or to individuals.  You may call to set up an appointment at any time.  Visits by appointment can be done either at church or at your home.
        In case you contract COVID-19:  Please contact Pastor Schroeder.  He will alert the congregation so that your fellow members may pray for you, and he will keep everyone informed of your condition.  If possible, Pastor Schroeder will visit you during your quarantine.  At the very least, he will keep in contact with you and provide devotional materials.  If you want to ask for intercessions for loved ones, we will certainly remember them in our prayers, too.  If your loved one has no pastor, ask if they would like Pastor Schroeder to visit them.  

PRIVATE COMMUNION DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Private Communion is available by appointment at any time.
To limit the risk of contracting COVID-19 as much as possible, please review the protocol we will follow when you come in.  You can see it here.

OFFERINGS
While we may not be meeting for worship, we do have financial obligations to meet.  You may either mail your offering into Good Shepherd, or you can set up your offering to be transferred electronically from your bank.  If you are interested in the automatic transfer of funds for your offering, please contact the church at welsnovi@aol.com .

OFFICE HOURS
The office hours at Good Shepherd are going to be fairly fluid throughout the summer months.  If you want to contact Pastor Schroeder for any kind of meeting, call or text (248) 719-5218.

DO YOU LIKE US?
Look for Good Shepherd on Facebook.  Then “LIKE” us for updates and other postings.  Be sure to share posts with friends.

SHARE THIS POST!
We desire as many as possible to rejoice in the Gospel which we proclaim and confess.  Share the information from our weekly email blast, links to our web page, and even to the pastor's blog to let others know that we have a space in our congregation for them!

God bless you.


In Christ,
Pastor Schroeder
==============================
SUMMER SCHEDULE
DIVINE SERVICES -- Sundays at 10:00 AM  (We also stream on Facebook Live )

GOOD SHEPHERD’S WEBSITE

Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church
41415 W. Nine Mile Road
Novi, Michigan  48375-4306
+   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Schroeder Vacation, Part 4 -- Western Michigan: Binder Park Zoo

The final stop on our vacation was Binder Park Zoo just outside of Battle Creek, Michigan.  Binder Park Zoo focuses mainly on animals from Africa, although other animals (e.g., kangaroos and wallabees) were also there.

Binder Park Zoo was a pleasant surprise for us.  Especially cool was a large, open place where giraffes, ostriches, zebras, addax, and some other animals roamed about freely.  Peter also got to feed the giraffes.  Trails around the park allowed us to see many animals which also roamed pretty freely.

Here are some photos.










Schroeder Vacation, Part 3 -- Western Michigan: South Haven

After four nights at Hoffmaster State Park, we moved on to the KOA south of South Haven.  We had hoped to enjoy some sunsets on Lake Michigan, but clouds tended to roll in later in the day.  In South Haven, we had our chance.

Our first night, however, had strong storms blow through.  The jacks which held up our camper did a great job keeping us upright.  The camper rocked, but it never seemed to be in danger of getting tipped.  Some of the trees in the campground were not so lucky.  Thankfully, no one had their camper or car crushed by any branches or trees.

On the second night, we finally got our sunset -- sort of.  We walked down to the lighthouse later in the day, but we had not had any supper.  We hoped to grab something and still have time to walk down to the lighthouse and watch the sun go down.  The short version -- we got quite delayed getting our food.  We returned to the lakefront in time to see the late strains of sunlight which still offered some beautiful views.

Here are some photos from South Haven.











Schroeder Vacation, Part 2 -- Western Michigan: Holland

One day of our vacation took us to Holland, Michigan.  We visited Windmill Island Gardens.  If you go, pay close attention to the sign which indicates the entrance to the park.  We drove past it twice.  Heavy rains left Windmill Island a bit underwhelming as they prohibited the blooming of many tulips (these bloom in May, so we would have missed them anyway) and left portions of the park covered in water.  In addition, COVID-19 restrictions had a few of the venues closed.  The most disappointing closure was the tour of their full-size, working windmill.  They also did not have the demonstration of the wooden-shoe making and a few other buildings.  The grounds were still nice to walk around, even if it was not quite the display they are used to.

After that, we went to Nelis' Dutch Village.  After confirming that we could bring Faith's dog, Radon, into the grounds, we enjoyed the Dutch Village for quite a few hours.  Besides having buildings, canals, and bridges that reflect the Netherlands, there were also some amusement rides.  Peter especially like the pirate-themed balloon launch where people could sling-shot water balloons at each other.  Peter was on the losing end of most of these battles.  But since it was a pretty warm day, I think he appreciated the soaking.

Here are some photos from Holland.






Every photo above is from Windmill Island Gardens.  All photos which follow are from Nelis' Dutch Village.
Every photo above is from Windmill Island Gardens.
All photos which follow are from Nelis' Dutch Village.








Schroeder Vacation, Part 1 -- Western Michigan: Muskegon

The end of June took some of the Schroeder family to western Michigan for a week of vacation.  We had hoped for a longer trek, but COVID-19 restrictions and concerns kept us close to home.  And while we did not get to travel far, we did get to explore parts of the state that we had not really visited before.  Having lived in Michigan now for only 24 years, we finally got to visit something new in such places as Muskegon, Holland, and South Haven.  

Our trip could be summed up in one blog post, but photographs demand that I break this up into 3 or 4 entries.  The first entry will focus on Muskegon and, in particular, the USS Silversides Museum.  Besides touring the submarine USS Silversides, there is a WWII museum.  If you go, plan on taking a few hours to read through all the history of WWII documented there.  It focuses mainly on action in the Pacific Theater, but there is a timeline that covers everything leading up to WWII and in more detail from events from 1941-1945.  

In addition to touring the USS Silversides submarine, they also had a Coast Guard vessel to walk through.

Muskegon has more to offer, but we limited ourselves to the museum for one day.  While it was worth the visit, we found it pretty hard to find.  The signs directing us were somewhat sparse, and we often wondered if we were on the right track.  Once we failed to decipher a particular direction and took a wrong turn (we blamed an arrow which pointed neither straight nor to the left, but in between those directions, and we guessed wrong).

For the particularly adventurous, you are able to sleep overnight on the USS Silversides.  We were not that adventurous, opting for a much more comfortable night's sleep at Hoffmaster State Park.  Here are some photos.









Monday, June 22, 2020

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Sermon -- TEN WORDS: The Preface (June 21, 2020)

EXODUS 20:1-2

TEN WORDS – THE FIRST WORD.
THE LORD YOUR GOD HAS FREED YOU.

In the name + of Jesus.

      While you know there are Ten Commandments, it may surprise you to know that Christians number them differently.  If the Ten Commandments are the word of the Lord, how can there be differences in their numbering?  One reason is that God does not number them.  God does not even call them the Ten “Commandments.”  In Deuteronomy, Moses says literally, the LORD “wrote on the tablets, in the same writing as before, the Ten Words that the LORD had spoken to you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly.” (Deuteronomy 10:4)  As the Hebrews number them, the first word is not even a command.  The first word is this: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Exodus 20:2)  The first word is about God.
     God is the creator of heaven and earth and everything in it.  He is the author of life.  As such, he has the right to say how life is to be lived.  As the supreme, all-powerful God, he even has the right to subject us to whatever he wants.  Who could oppose him?  Many find it insulting that God should have that much power and that much say over our lives.  I remember meeting a woman years ago who said that she rejected God and had no use for him.  When I asked why, she explained that she considered God to be a giant toddler—demanding attention and throwing a tantrum if he did get what he wanted from us.  In her thinking, all God ever did was take, take, and take.
     But it is not possible for God to take since everything already belongs to him.  The Bible reminds us, “The earth is the LORD's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1)  God did not create the universe for his benefit since God does not need the universe for his benefit.  Everything God created he did for the benefit of mankind.  This includes the Commandments he gives.  Before he gave his Commandments and declared his will for all people, he proclaimed who he is and what he has done.  He is neither a toddler nor a tyrant.  Rather, he is your good and merciful Father in heaven.  More than that, he is your Savior.  The Lord your God has freed you.
     For the people of Israel, God revealed his work as a Savior by bringing them out of the land of Egypt.  The Egyptians were the tyrants.  They had abused the people of Israel for their own glory and gain.  They subjected the Israelites to hard labor dedicated to the glory of Egypt.  When the Israelites complained, the Egyptians made their work harder.  When the Israelites sought to hold a festival to worship the Lord, the Egyptians mocked Israel and the Lord.  When the Israelites began to increase, Pharaoh commanded that all their baby boys be killed.  It was not just a matter of the Egyptians being mean and brutal; it was also a matter of the Egyptians threatening the promise of a Savior to come through Israel.  To destroy every male born to Israel is potentially to destroy the Savior.  The Egyptians had declared war on the promise of the Messiah.  The Lord would not let the promise be jeopardized, so he acted to save Israel.
     The Lord God set them free by mocking Egypt's many gods.  Each plague God sent was also a judgment on their gods.  You worship the Nile?  It will turn to blood.  You worship the power of oxen?  Your cattle will have boils.  You worship the sun?  There will be three days of darkness.  Finally, the Lord declared the death of every firstborn male in Egypt, but delivered Israel through the blood of the Passover Lamb.  He led Israel out and to the shores of the Red Sea.  There, the Lord drove back the sea with a strong, east wind which allowed Israel to pass through on dry ground to freedom on the other side.  Those same waters came back together on the pursuing Egyptian army and laid waste to Pharaoh's army.  Israel won a great victory in which they did nothing.  The Lord saved them and set them free.
     The Lord your God has set you free, too.  Your enemy, however, is not a national power.  The Bible reminds us, and we do well to remember it: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:11-12)  Your enemy is the one who wants you damned.  Governments cannot damn you.  Other people cannot damn you.  Neither can war, disease, civil unrest, or injustice.  Your enemy is the devil.  He works tirelessly to coax and seduce you out of the kingdom of God.  And if you are outside the kingdom of God, that will damn you.  
     Our own spiritual blindness fails to see the enemy for who he is.  Remember that woman who branded God as a spoiled toddler who demands attention and has a tantrum if he does not get what he wants?  We, too, think of God that way.  God gives us his Commandments, and we bristle and chafe under them.  We think they are unfair and unreasonable, and we want to be free from them.  If God's Commandments make life hard, and if God says he will punish all who transgress them, then we conclude that God must be our enemy.
     But God's Commandments are not the problem.  God's Commandments expose the problem: You and I are sinners.  Oh, we will quote the Commandments when it serves our purpose.  We hold them up against people who steal from us or lie about us.  But we shrug them off when we don't like them.  We mock our leaders, we slander those who think differently, and we look for congratulations when we defraud our neighbor.  Your problem is not God.  Your problem is not even your fellow man.  Your problem is your own sinful heart and mind which seeks only your own good.  And God's Commandments show you this is true.  For his Commandments are good and holy, and the fact that you chafe under them shows you that you are not.  Repent.
     The Lord your God has set you free from this wretched condition.  He has not set you free from the Law, for God's will does not change.  “Love the Lord your God above all things” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” are always God's will, and they are always good.  The Lord your God, however, has set you free from being condemned by his Law.  That is because Jesus has put himself under the Law in your place.  In your place, he has done all that Law demands and has avoided all that the Law forbids.  In your place, he has suffered all that the Law threatens.  He suffered the curse for every infraction against the Commandments and he has borne the guilt for every failure to live up to God's standard.  Jesus has taken your place both in righteous obedience and righteous judgment.  By this, the Lord your God has set you free from judgment.  Your sins are forgiven.  Your debts have been paid.  The Lord your God has set you free.
     More than that, your nature has been changed.  God has converted your heart so that you no longer consider his Commandments to be unreasonable or oppressive.  No longer do you see the will of God as something evil which prevents you from living a good life.  Rather, you recognize that the will of God is good and serves for the good of all people.  It protects your neighbor from harm and preserves peace among all people.  When other people afflict us with harm or cruelty, it is because they are in rebellion against the Commandments.  And when we insult our neighbor or hurt our loved ones, it is because we have failed to live up to God's good will.  So, the will of God is good, and that is because God is good.
     But the Lord your God has set you free.  You are no longer a slave who must perform to perfection or be damned.  Rather, you are children of the Most High God whose lives now rest in Jesus Christ.  God has granted you both a new status and a new heart.  Your new heart means that you delight in serving God and your neighbor as perfectly as you can because you know God is good and his Law is good.  Your new status means that you are free from fearing God's wrath.  You don't have to wonder at the end of each day if your behavior was kind enough, if your words were true enough, or if your motives were pure enough.  The Lord your God has set you free from fear and judgment and wrath.  Since you are in Christ, you are loved by God each and every day.  And God tells you so, so that you can live in peace and joy.
     Therefore, when God reveals to you what his will is for a good and godly life, you can be sure that the God who saved you is not out to inflict oppression and injustice upon you.  The God who has set you free is good.  The God who has marked you for eternal life is good.  Therefore, his Commandments are good—good for you, good for your neighbor, and good for giving glory to God.  His first word to you is this: I am the LORD your God who has set you free from sin, death, and the devil.  Love me as I have loved you.  And trust me, as I have proven myself trustworthy.

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

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Update from Good Shepherd (June 21, 2020)

Greetings!


WORSHIP DURING COVID-19
        Services will continue to be on Sundays at 10:00 AM for the foreseeable future.  We will not be offering the 8:30 AM service unless the attendance demands it after the stay-at-home order ends.  For information on what you can expect when you come to church and what will be expected of you, see this link.
        Services will still be broadcast on Facebook Live, Sundays at 10:00 AM, and uploaded to YouTube.   Share our services and invite friends to tune in.

GOOD SHEPHERD ON YOUTUBE
         Services are posted on YouTube, usually in a few hours after the service.  When you go to YouTube, do a search for "Good Shepherd Novi" and they should pop up.  (The service from June 14 is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmvwv7P_06U&t=2s )   Feel free to share the videos.
         Bulletins for services can be downloaded from here (scroll down): 

BIBLE INFORMATION CLASS
If you or anyone you know would like to study the Scriptures and learn the basics of the Bible, please contact Pastor Schroeder for a Bible Information Class.  It will be done over Zoom (or in person if you are willing) at your convenience.

GOING OUT OF TOWN THIS SUMMER?
As you make your vacation plans, be sure to include a faithful worship pattern as part of your plans.  In order to find the nearest WELS congregation at your vacation destination, check out the WELS Church Locator at https://yearbook.wels.net/unitsearch . 

SUMMER SERMON SERIES -- TEN WORDS
Our sermons throughout the summer will focus on the Ten Commandments.  For the schedule, see this link.

CONCERNING THE CORONAVIRUS
        General thoughts regrading the Church, its services, and pastoral care during a health scare such as the coronoavirus, I refer you to some thoughts I had written earlier.  You can find them at my blog here, under the title, "A Pastoral Concern: The Church Militant, Pastoral Care, and the Coronavirus."
        Regarding worship, particularly home devotions and prayer during this time of quarantine, you can refer to this letter which offers encouragement, advice, and resources for worship at home.  
        Home Devotions: A link to provide materials for home devotions and prayers is here.

CONCERNING PASTORAL CARE
        Online Worship:  Besides Facebook Live and YouTube, you can find the pastor's sermons archived on this blog.  You can use the search bar to find a particular date, day of the Church Year, or Scripture reference.
        Person-to-person care: As much as possible, Pastor Schroeder will be available for private devotions, Holy Absolution, and Holy Communion to members in small groups or to individuals.  You may call to set up an appointment at any time.  Visits by appointment can be done either at church or at your home.
        In case you contract COVID-19:  Please contact Pastor Schroeder.  He will alert the congregation so that your fellow members may pray for you, and he will keep everyone informed of your condition.  If possible, Pastor Schroeder will visit you during your quarantine.  At the very least, he will keep in contact with you and provide devotional materials.  If you want to ask for intercessions for loved ones, we will certainly remember them in our prayers, too.  If your loved one has no pastor, ask if they would like Pastor Schroeder to visit them.  

PRIVATE COMMUNION DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Private Communion is available by appointment at any time.
To limit the risk of contracting COVID-19 as much as possible, please review the protocol we will follow when you come in.  You can see it here.

OFFERINGS
While we may not be meeting for worship, we do have financial obligations to meet.  You may either mail your offering into Good Shepherd, or you can set up your offering to be transferred electronically from your bank.  If you are interested in the automatic transfer of funds for your offering, please contact the church at welsnovi@aol.com .

OFFICE HOURS
The office hours at Good Shepherd are going to be fairly fluid as we enter the summer months.  If you want to contact Pastor Schroeder for any kind of meeting, call or text (248) 719-5218.

DO YOU LIKE US?
Look for Good Shepherd on Facebook.  Then “LIKE” us for updates and other postings.  Be sure to share posts with friends.

SHARE THIS POST!
We desire as many as possible to rejoice in the Gospel which we proclaim and confess.  Share the information from our weekly email blast, links to our web page, and even to the pastor's blog to let others know that we have a space in our congregation for them!

God bless you.


In Christ,
Pastor Schroeder
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SUMMER SCHEDULE
DIVINE SERVICES -- Sundays at 10:00 AM  (We will also stream on Facebook Live )

GOOD SHEPHERD’S WEBSITE

Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church
41415 W. Nine Mile Road
Novi, Michigan  48375-4306
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