Spiritual Gifts

Preacher: Rev. Steve Woodfin Text: Jude 20-25 This weekend marks the end of the church year, and a fresh beginning as we enter into the season of Advent. And just like December 31, we have the chance to look back on the blessings and challenges of the previous year, and to look forward to the new year with hope, knowing and hearing the promises of God as we gather together for worship, the Word, and the Lord’s Supper. Jude gives us a list of things that we could perhaps call “new year’s resolutions.” They are things we as God’s people can seek to accomplish by His power and grace as we make our way in the world. And He gives us tools to bring His love, light, and life, among them, spiritual gifts. To understand more about the gifts God has given you, and how you might use them to serve Him and His people, click here for an online survey (ourshepherd.news/sg).

Why do we go to Church?

ourshepherd.net Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, School, Childcare in Birmingham, Michigan 48009 Preacher: Rev. Dr. Evan Gaertner "Why Do We go to Church?" Hebrews 10:11-25 Why do we go to church Heb 10 OS on Easter Sunday April 2018 2.jpg The Church is designed by God to be an assembly of believers that are gathered by God’s Word. God intends for His people to be physically gathered with Him and other believers. The writer of Hebrews says, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25). In this present age we are surrounded by trials, temptations, doubts, and fears. The Holy Spirit calls us into the church not only to deliver us into the forgiveness of sins that is ours in Christ Jesus, but to encourage and equip us alongside our brothers and sisters in the faith. The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for us as we have had difficulty gathering and learning the lovely words of God. What goes missing when your church experience is distant and isolated? The command in Hebrews to gather in community is not meant to be burdensome, but for the good of our faith, love, and joy. There is an important reason for God’s sheep to spend time with the Good Shepherd. Christ wants to feed us with His Word and Sacraments.

God's Upside Down Kingdom

ourshepherd.net Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, School, Childcare in Birmingham, Michigan 48009 Preacher: Rev. Steve Woodfin Text: Matthew 5:1-12 The Beatitudes pronounce blessing where we see darkness; strength where we see weakness. They pronounce God’s presence and love where we see His absence and disregard. They announce the coming of God’s upside-down Kingdom. All Saints’ Day reflects His upside-down Kingdom as we celebrate the death of the faithful. God’s Word tells us, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” For this we praise our Heavenly Father, because All Saints’ Day reminds us of those who have gone ahead, and further, that we are also destined to go, we who are already considered saints by the blood of Christ, joined eternally with all of God’s people by the Holy Spirit through baptism. All Saints’ Day is for ALL saints as we look into the Kingdom we inhabit right now, and receive God’s perfect, redemptive peace. Death no longer terrifies us. Further, this life no longer terrifies us, for we are set aside for a holy purpose by God’s promises – to be used for His glory, as we announce the arrival of His upside-down Kingdom.

A Mighty Fortress

ourshepherd.net Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, School, Childcare in Birmingham, Michigan 48009 Preacher: Rev. Dr. Evan Gaertner Text: Psalm 46 This weekend we celebrate God’s presence and protection that is found for us in the mighty Word of God. We can trust in God as the provider of refuge and strength. During natural catastrophes and forces of chaos, we desire evidence that God is in control. What cannot be moved? What does not turn away from the threats of raging enemies? By looking to the Lord, we can have confidence and know that God is our refuge. Now is the time to let go of your grip of everything that provides you empty security or meaning. In contrast to the empty promises and hopes of this age, God will not totter. You can be certain that God is your strength.

Given Sight

ourshepherd.net Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, School, Childcare in Birmingham, Michigan 48009 "Given Sight" Mark 10:46-52 Preacher: Graham Jenkins Many of us believe that we ourselves see the world clearly and most others do not. “If only they got their information from the same place I do, they would see the world the way it truly is. How blind they are!” You might catch yourself thinking. In a world of conflicting lenses and narratives this is an easy judgment to pass on others. The truth is that we have received sight; we have been healed of our blindness and see the world as it really is. The Holy Spirit has granted each of us faith, and this faith is not of our own. This faith has made us well, and by the power of Christ, we too have been given sight, and so can see the truth: that we are loved by a God who is infinite in every conceivable way. His love for us is so great that He died for us to save us from our fallen condition. He wants us to spread this truth, to spread His love, so that others may be given sight and inherit eternal life.

Children of the Sword

As we continue our walk through Mark this week, we take a second look at the story of the young rich man who asked Jesus, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" After Jesus told him to sell all he had, the rich man went away full of sorrow. The disciples were shocked at Jesus' answer, so they continued asking Jesus "how then is it possible?" They were about to experience firsthand the double edged sword, the Word of God (who is Jesus) as it cut right to the bone. Jesus answers "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle". Totally perplexed, the disciples ask, "Then who can be saved?" The Sword cuts again and answers ""For man it is impossible". Come join us this weekend and hear the good news that the Double Edged Sword provides to you and to me. (Hint: it is the answer to every question in Confirmation class).

The Eyes of our Heart

ourshepherd.net Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, School, Childcare in Birmingham, Michigan 48009 Preacher: Rev. Steve Woodfin Text: Mark 10:17-27 A rich man approaches Jesus, asking “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” As the conversation unfolds, Jesus says something that is, frankly, rather scary: “sell all you have and give to the poor.” The man is shocked. The disciples are shocked. And he goes away, sorrowful. He’s not going to sell his possessions. Not today, anyway. But hidden within this story are two words in verse 21 that say it all: “And Jesus, looking at him, loved him.” What appeared to be harsh words of judgment to those watching were instead tender words of genuine love and concern. Jesus saw the man’s heart; He knew the false god the man worshiped. His instructions were for the man’s good, both in his earthly life, and in eternity. What instructions does God have for you, and for me? What is clouding the eyes of our hearts toward the true treasure of Jesus Christ? Thanks be to God, who gives us the Holy Spirit to see what we cannot see on our own – the King of the Universe, who willingly gave up everything He had and died as a poor, homeless criminal, in order to give us the greatest treasure we could ever receive.

Mission of Marriage

Adam, created by God, was placed in the garden of paradise. He had a relationship with God, but the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” Adam was in paradise but in a “not good” condition. Even in paradise loneliness was terrible. In response to this loneliness, God created a woman. When Adam saw the woman, he responded, “At last.” Our lives are not meant to be accomplished alone. We face life with brothers and sisters, parents, children, and friends of our heart. Our holiness in God’s paradise is found in our relationship with God and with our relationship with the other, the stranger that becomes known. Our Christian hope for the kingdom of God is found in the promise that we have not been abandoned to loneliness by God. God saw Adam alone. God sees each one of us in our loneliness. Through God’s blessings the people who are married or single can find deeply fulfilling loving relationships with Jesus. We do not idolize marriage as the only means of hope for fulfillment in this present age. Christian hope always rests on the promises of Jesus. How do the promises of Jesus become revealed in marriage? How do the promises of Jesus become revealed in singleness? God provides us with relationships that give us opportunities for sacrificial service and spiritual friendship.

Cause of Trouble

Jesus challenged his followers to not be the cause of trouble that keeps a person from knowing Jesus. He said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he was thrown into the sea.” How does someone cause another person to stumble? Paul has concern in 1 Corinthians 8 for how our actions can become obstacles that get in the way of people seeing Jesus. Generally the worry is about old traditions that are not aligned with the kingdom of God that arrives with Jesus. Let’s take a hard look at our treatment of people who believe in Jesus. Are we prepared to help people to see Jesus or do we get in the way of people seeing Jesus? I want to be a part of the solution and not part of the problem.

Rank

Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35) Class rankings, team rankings, salary schedules, playoff positions, and so many other ways are marked by how we compare to other people. We love winning. We love recognition. Are we prepared to lose and drop down the rankings? There is shame, despair, and hopelessness when the win-lose record is going in the wrong direction. What happens when we no longer are the best and no longer out rank everyone? Jesus promises that he will welcome the low-ranking child. Jesus promises that he will welcome you. Jesus does not receive you because you are the brightest and best. Mercy is what Jesus does.

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