Sunday, September 28, 2014

Where's The Sermon

The Lord be with you

For those of you who come to this blog to listen to Sunday's sermon, I forgot my recorder today (9/28/14) so no sermon will be posted. Sorry.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Rickert

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Stream CTS Daily Chapel Services

Watch CTS Daily Chapel Services Live

FORT WAYNE, Ind.—Concordia Theological Seminary (CTS), Fort Wayne, Indiana, is pleased to announce that the morning chapel services in Kramer Chapel can now be viewed live via the internet. The services will be broadcast Monday–Friday at 10:00 a.m. (EST) when classes are in session. To watch the services go to and click on Morning Chapel Service.

"Anyone who has ever participated in a service in Kramer Chapel knows what it's like to be enveloped by the sound of so many voices joined together to give thanks for God's wondrous deeds,” commented the Rev. Dr. Paul Grime, CTS dean of the Chapel. “We hope that our daily chapel services will be a blessing to all those who join us online, and we extend a hearty welcome for all to join us in person should they ever be in the vicinity."

For those who are unable to watch at 10:00 a.m., the services will be recorded and posted at          


Concordia Theological Seminary exists to form servants in Jesus Christ who teach the faithful, reach the lost, and care for all.

For additional information concerning educational opportunities and events at CTS, please contact: Jayne Sheafer, CTS Director of Public Relations, 260-452-2250 or 

Friday, September 26, 2014

What God Ordains Is Always Good - Bible Study

What God Ordains Is Always Good
Text: Samuel Rodigast (1649-1708)
(Lutheran Service Book 760)

Primary Biblical References: Romans 8:28; Psalm 92:15; Deuteronomy 32:4; Lamentations 3:19–26

What God ordains is always good:
    His will is just and holy.
As He directs my life for me,
    I follow meek and lowly.
        My God indeed
        In ev’ry need
Knows well how He will shield me;
To Him, then, I will yield me.

What God ordains is always good:
    He never will deceive me;
He leads me in His righteous way,
    And never will He leave me.
        I take content
        What He has sent;
His hand that sends me sadness
Will turn my tears to gladness.

What God ordains is always good:
    His loving thought attends me;
No poison can be in the cup
    That my physician sends me.
        My God is true;
        Each morning new
I trust His grace unending,
My life to Him commending.

What God ordains is always good:
    He is my friend and Father;
He suffers naught to do me harm
    Though many storms may gather.
        Now I may know
        Both joy and woe;
Someday I shall see clearly
That He has loved me dearly.

What God ordains is always good:
    Though I the cup am drinking
Which savors now of bitterness,
    I take it without shrinking.
        For after grief
        God gives relief,
My heart with comfort filling
And all my sorrow stilling.

What God ordains is always good:
    This truth remains unshaken.
Though sorrow, need, or death be mine,
    I shall not be forsaken.
        I fear no harm,
        For with His arm
He shall embrace and shield me;
So to my God I yield me.

The author of this hymn, Samuel Rodigast, was born in Gröben near Jena, Germany. He studied at Weimar and then Jena. From 1680, he was vice-principal and director of the Berlinisches Gymnasium zum Grauen Kloster in Berlin. He never changed his job, although a professorship in Jena was offered to him, and was buried in the church of the monastery.

What God ordains is always good” is the only hymn by Rodigast in our hymnal and the only hymn I could find credited to him. He wrote it to comfort his close friend Severus Gastorius, who was ill and all assumed approaching death. During his recovery Gastorius wrote the tune. J.S. Bach liked the hymn so much that he included it in three different cantatas.

There is no doubt that we live in troubled times. Empty phrases like “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” or “Put on your big boy pants” do nothing for someone standing by the grave of their son who died in a war in a country far away.

Death and destruction are all about us. Whether it is the eboli outbreak in Africa, the murderous actions of ISIS, the devastation of an earthquake or other natural disaster, the breaking down of relationships, the slow but sure deterioration of one’s health as one ages, or simply the loss of a beloved pet, we can all see it.  Such dark hours are what this hymn addresses.

The first thing we notice in the hymn is that Rodigast is not speaking about some generic god. It is not about “a” god or “the gods.” He sings about “my God,” the God who “direct my life,” the God who “leads me.” This is not a cry to the heavens above, hoping against all common sense that somewhere some being might hear and then might take pity. The hymn addresses the God the singer has a long track record with. He knows, not only from the Bible but also from the track record, that God providentially watches over His people.

So who are those who know this track record? In Romans 8:28 we read:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Paul tells us that the people who know this track record are “those who are called according to His purpose.” In other words, these are those who God elected in eternity to send the Holy Spirit through the Gospel to bring them to faith in His Son.

I realize that election, along with those issues related to it like salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone and predestination, is a thorny issue for many. Some have, in the past, used these teachings to terrify people and even introduce doubt in their salvation or the goodness of God. Here we see it used properly, as a source of comfort and encouragement.

Therefore, because all things are really in God’s providential hand, we know that “all things work together for good.” So we sing with confidence “What God ordains is always good.”

Of course the hymn writer isn’t speaking of some silly humanly devised utopia. We sing, “His hand that sends me sadness,” “Though many storms may gather,” “Though I the cup am drinking Which savors now of bitterness,” and “Though sorrow, need, or death be mine.” But through it all we know that “What God ordains is always good.”

Psalm 92 is one of the so-called “orphan” Psalms. That is because we don’t know who wrote it. The psalmist declares, “that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him” (Psalm 92:15). So we sing in verse 2, God “is always good; He never will deceive me; He leads me in His righteous way, And never will leave me.”

I might take a moment to point out that it is God who is righteous and who does not deceive us. There is so much bad theology today which makes claims for God that God has not made; Claims that flatter us and promise that God’s understanding of “good” is the same as fallen humanities idea of “good.” These false prophets deceive people. It is not God who deceives. Sadly many who have been deceived then think God has lied. This is one of the great dangers of false doctrine, false teaching.

In Deuteronomy Moses writes:

“The Rock, his work is perfect,
          for all his ways are justice.
A God of faithfulness and without iniquity,
          just and upright is he. (Deuteronomy 32:4)

God is “The Rock, His work is perfect, for all His ways are justice.” God indeed is our “Rock,” our Refuge and Protector; He is our perfect judge who declares His repentant believers forgiven and righteous. He protects them; that’s us. Therefore “I trust His grace unending.”

In Lamentations 3:19-26, Jeremiah writes that God’s people have their afflictions.

19        Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
                   the wormwood and the gall!
20        My soul continually remembers it
                   and is bowed down within me.
21        But this I call to mind,
                   and therefore I have hope:

22        The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
                   his mercies never come to an end;
23        they are new every morning;
                   great is your faithfulness.
24        “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
                   “therefore I will hope in him.”

25        The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
                   to the soul who seeks him.
26        It is good that one should wait quietly
                   for the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:19-26)

Clearly those who speak lying promises and claim a “real” Christian who has a “strong enough” faith will experience no troubles have to cut such verses like 19-20 out of their Bibles.

But God does not leave Jeremiah, or us, without hope. Look again at verses 25-26. And, of course, we know that Christians seek Him through His Word and the Lord’s Supper. This is where he has promised we can find Him. Christians petition Him in prayer in Jesus’ name. You can be confident that what God ordains for you will always be for your good!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Worship Notes for Pentecost 16, 2014

Thursday after Pentecost 15
September 25, 2014

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost. As it is a “fourth” Sunday, we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper. To do this we will use the fourth setting of the Divine Service (page 203) for our liturgy. The appointed lessons for the day are Ezekiel 18:1–4, 25–32; Philippians 2:1–18 and Matthew 21:23–32. The sermon is titled “God’s Just Ways.” The text is Ezekiel 18:2. The opening hymn will be “Sing Praise to God the Highest Good” (LSB 819). The sermon hymn will be “What God Ordains Is Always Good” (LSB 760). The closing hymn will be “Go, My Children, with My Blessing” (LSB 922). Our distribution hymns will be “Make Songs of Joy” (LSB 484), “Draw Near and Take the Body of the Lord” (LSB 637) and “Eat This Bread” (LSB 638).

I plan to work up a Bible study tomorrow inspired by the sermon hymn, “What God Ordains is Always Good.” You can check back for it then. Below is the Lutheran Quartet singing the hymn. It is from The Lutheran Hymnal. There are a few minor changes in the wording as it appears in our current hymnal.

Our Sunday morning Bible hour begins at 9:00 am. We looking at the biblical themes of Witness, Mercy and Life Together. The study of God’s word is a key way to keep the Third Commandment which Luther explains as meaning, “We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.” Bible study is a great opportunity to “gladly hear and learn” God’s word.  

What follows is a summary of Sunday’s lessons provided by the LC-MS and then the actual lessons.

The Cross of Christ Opens to Us the Way of Repentance to Life with God
The way of the Lord is righteous and just: “the soul who sins shall die” (Ezek. 18:4). However, because the Lord has “no pleasure in the death of anyone” (Ezek. 18:32), He calls sinners to repentance and faith in His gracious forgiveness of sins. The man who is thus turned away from his wickedness, who henceforth lives by the grace of God, “shall surely live; he shall not die” (Ezek. 18:28). This way of repentance has been opened for us by the cross of Christ. In the righteousness of faith and love, “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death” (Phil. 2:8), and He was vindicated in His resurrection from the dead. Indeed, “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name” (Phil. 2:9). He has given us this name in our Baptism into Christ, in whom we now “shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15). He uses the authority that He has received from His Father (Matt. 21:23–27) to preach a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, by which even “the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God” (Matt. 21:31–32).

Ezekiel 18:1–4, 25–32
18:1      The word of the Lord came to me: 2“What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge’? 3As I live, declares the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. 4Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die. …
25        “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? 26When a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it; for the injustice that he has done he shall die. 27Again, when a wicked person turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he shall save his life. 28Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions that he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 29Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, are my ways not just? Is it not your ways that are not just?
30        “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. 31Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? 32For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”

Philippians 2:1–18
2:1       So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
12        Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
14        Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.

Matthew 21:23–32
23        And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” 27So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.
28        “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. 30And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. 31Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

A Quick Note:

  • The October newsletter should be posted before Sunday. Print copies should be available Sunday for those who don’t have internet access.   

Well, I pray we will see you Sunday morning.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert