Monday, May 10, 2021

Sermon May. 8-9, 2021

Title: You are God's own child Baptized into his name!
Text: 1 John 5:1-8

Facebook live: You are God’s own child baptized into his name!

4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

On this Mother’s Day it is certainly a day where we remember and thank our Mother’s for all that they do and have done for us, but it is also a day where we thank the Lord – for those who have been given to us in this life and stand in their place - and care for us with their love. And by that love, God has made us his own through the water of his care.

Stanza 1

Baptized into your name most holy,
O Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
I claim a place, though weak and lowly,
Among your saints, your chosen host,
Buried with Christ and dead to sin.
Your Spirit now shall live within.

Our epistle in 1 John begins:

5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God,

For you and I and all who have been born a new, this work of God began when we were baptized. We were marked by Christ as his own, having been born again and adopted into his family - and having our sins washed away in the waters of Holy Baptism - we joy in God’s work and our new life as God’s child.

The work of God began for many of us as infants. God’s work was certainly greater than our ability to speak this truth as babies for ears to hear at our baptism - and so as we’ve grown up and have been taught what this work of God is – we continue to proclaim this truth and live as God’s adopted children to his glory.

Stanza 2

My loving Father, here you take me
To be henceforth your child and heir.
My faithful Savior, here you make me
The fruit of all your sorrows share.
O Holy Spirit, comfort me
When threat'ning clouds around I see.

4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

Our first reading in Act relates this truth:

44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.

This gift also comes by means of another gift – the Lord’s working in Baptism. Through the means of grace we have received the Holy Spirit, and have overcome the world, conquering sin, death and the power of the devil through this baptismal washing uniting water with the word and Spirit and creating faith in we who were once dead to God.

God has united us to himself in a special way and we confess with our mouths this truth that Jesus is Lord, and that believing that God has raised him from the dead - we are saved - have been saved - and will continue to be saved!

Salvation is God’s promise and is delivered through his means.

The word of terror that the devil brings – that you aren’t good enough - has been defeated at the cross and Jesus has declared his victory for you, even to the gates of hell that sin, death and the devil have been defeated and overcome by our Lord and we who confess this faith receive all that Jesus won for us in this most blessed gift.

This is most certainly true.

Stanza 3

My faithful God, you fail me never;
Your promise surely will endure.
Oh, cast me not away forever
If words and deeds become impure.
Have mercy when I come defiled;
Forgive, lift up, restore your child.

3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

For you and I who have been brought to faith the keeping of the Law has been completed in Christ, and so as we stay connected to the true vine that is Jesus, and feed on his word, we are seen by the Father in perfect righteousness because Jesus has kept the Law perfectly on our behalf and we, in Christ, reflect that perfection.

In the world we reflect the brokenness of sin in this world as well.

As a little boy I was too young to even remember this incident. But my mother told it to me relating her shock and embarrassment.

I was probably 2 years old and with my mother at a store. While she was shopping a lady, she knew came over to talk with my mom and while they were visiting, she looked at me and asked, “What is your name little boy?” To which I quickly replied, “Damn it, Russell!”

My mom was mortified. I had obviously heard that a lot from her because I didn’t know my name apart from that phrase.

What we reflect in the world has consequences.

Now, not to have my mom take all the blame for bad judgment while teaching her child.

When my daughter Amy was 2 years old, Monica and I were taking her and our dog for a walk. As we walked near the Nature Center in our sub, I saw a squirrel. Knowing that our dog Tawney, would get excited and want to chase the squirrel, I pulled the dog to a stop and had Monica and Amy stop to distract the dog until the squirrel was out of sight. While we waited, Amy looked up and said, “Damn squirrel.”

I lived my mom’s grief.

I too had let the word of sin taint my life.

But, the word of sin and the world has been overcome in Christ!

Stanza 4

All that I am and love most dearly -
Receive it all, O Lord, from me.
Let me confess my faith sincerely
And help me your own child to be!
Let nothing that I am or own
Serve any will but yours alone.

5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Belief is God’s work!

The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

That is how the Apostle Paul comforts his first readers of this epistle. And for we who many years later hear his same voice proclaimed through the Gospel promise by the Holy Spirit believe and have the same gift of comfort and peace now and always through the assurance of simple water and word connected, received, and revealed.

What a blessed comfort!

Martin Luther writes in his Lecturing on the First Epistle of St. John:

Thus the water cannot be proclaimed without the blood. Nor is the blood of Christ given without the water of Baptism. Besides, the blood and the water do not come to us except at the insistence of the Holy Spirit, who is in the Word. Therefore, those three cannot be separated, but the three do one thing …
For these three constantly accompany one another, and through the word a daily immersion and a perpetual baptism takes place, a perpetual shedding of the blood of Christ and of the Holy Spirit, a continual cleansing of sins.

AE 30 pg 316 Lutheran Study Bible pg. 2180

We as God’s children and all God’s children who have been baptized have and receive God’s forgiveness and have salvation in his name.

We all fall short, sure – but the blood of Christ paid the price that overcame sin death and the devil and has opened the gates of heaven for we who believe. The waters of Holy Baptism, united with the word of God, washes away our sin and by the Holy Spirit we believe and have the assurance of God’s forgiveness now and into eternity.

The devil will continue to damn us. But God in Christ has rescued us from damnation to eternity.

Baptized into Your Name Most Holy!

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

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Sermon May. 1-2, 2020

Title: God’s living branches
Text: John 15:1-8

Facebook live: God's living branches!

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

Erika was at the church a week or two ago cleaning up some of the day lilies, raking leaves and doing a bit of pruning to the bushes. She has a skill from many years and hours of this type of work around her home and at the church. Some of our trees need attention on the property as well.

Pruning and branches are very familiar to we who live in Michigan. We clean them up in the spring and prune trees, bushes and vines in the fall and spring or throughout the year. You see the trucks driving around with the bucket and chippers from DTE to prune the trees near the power lines. It is of great benefit in keeping our power on during storms.

My own privacy hedge along my street I planted many years ago as a protection for my children and it still requires work and regular pruning to keep its shape and its height in check … all 200 feet of it … even though my kids have moved long ago and have their own homes.

Our gospel text today consists of only 8 verses that follow the discourse in John chapter 14 where Jesus promises that many rooms are prepared in his father’s house for his disciples and that he will come again to take them to where he is.

The comfort of the Holy Spirit will be the one to remain after Jesus has ascended to the Father to continue to work and point all in Christ to that true comfort and finished hope that is Jesus.

15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.

Christ’s love for us and his death on our behalf was on our minds last weekend with the Good Shepherd gospel. The image of the Good Shepherd and the caring of the flock was the focus of Jesus’ care for those that are his and how he brings that about through his word and gifts through his church and those who serve as under shepherds.

In our reading today Jesus speaks in image as a vine. But not just any vine but as the true vine.

1“I am” the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser.”

The divine name that begins our reading is no mistake but is made to ring clear in the disciples’ ears as the name of God and Jesus as the rightful possessor of that name. He then connects his name to the Father as the vine dresser.

In chapter 14 and in a more direct way when Phillip asks:

“Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”

Jesus replies:

Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.

So Jesus is making clear in the previous chapter and in this first verse - this connectivity:

Father, Son, Vine, Vine dresser, the great “I am”, and Jesus - united in unity and unity in truth.

2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

To be a disciple means two things; to be connected to Christ and to bear fruit. This work God does through the Holy Spirit. The branches removed here are not the unbelieving world but those who once connected to Christ have lost faith or do not bear fruit and have become useless to the vine. Because of unbelief … they are removed and cast away.

The fear in the text of being cut off and cast way for you and me is not the point of the text but for we who remain connected to Christ - it is the pruning and the bearing of fruit – which too can have its own pain and discomfort.

Those of you who have dealt with surgery know the pain of surgery and the blessing of looking at it in the rear view mirror. It is the desire of Jesus that we are fruit bearers that the fruit of being connected to him shines forth in our lives … at church, at home, and in the world where we live and work.

A former pastor once said when faced with the “Judge not, that you be not judged.” scripture of Matthew Chapter 7 from a well-intended person, replied:

“I’m not judging … but I am a fruit inspector!”

3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.

The work of God’s justifying grace has already brought us into his family as his adopted children. Through baptism we have been washed in the blood of the Lamb and have partaken of the divine blessing that is Jesus … being marked in him as one redeemed by Christ the crucified.

So this fruit inspection is not to see whether we are truly Christian … but whether the gift of God in Christ as his children is bearing fruit in our lives … or dying on the vine.

Death will come. But do we die removed from the vine or in Christ?

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. Psalm 116:15

A good death, a death in Christ, a death that leads to eternal life is what God desires- it is our hope as well - and it only happen in Christ, the true and living vine with branches grafted in.

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

To do the work of Christ and to bear fruit we have to be in Christ.

We have to grow spiritually bearing the fruit that Christ desires.

You might wonder what God requires. Are we being judged on our works and the things we do?

Certainly as Christians and especially as Lutheran Christians we know that Ephesians 2:8-9 makes clear how we are saved:

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. Eph 2:8-9

But fruit is the evidence of a life in Christ for the Christian. It’s not a pious life or an outward righteousness but an inward change. It is God’s work and God’s continued working through his means of word and sacrament.

If I see my apple tree with a dead branch, I cut it off and then prune those branches around it that bear fruit … so that they might receive more nourishment and bear even greater fruit.

Sometimes our feelings and the world can steer us into wrong thinking.

1. Trust in your heart and what it’s saying.
2. Prosperity is a sign that shows God’s approval and favor in our lives.
3. Trust that God only expects you to do your best.

Jesus makes it clear in the gospel:

5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

The fruit bearing is in Christ.

Our good deeds apart from Christ are quite literally nothing. They show no fruit and in fact if done with the intention of being a good deed, bring no fruit and can take us farther away from God, trusting in a false god of our own making. Our works apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in us … can do nothing, Jesus says.

1. Trusting you heart as opposed to trusting Jesus - leads to death.
2. Trusting your wealth as opposed to trusting Jesus – leads to death.
3. Doing your best as opposed to belief in Christ’s work – leads to death.

6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

The abiding hope, is a hope and work in God and of God.

7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

1.To have Jesus Christ abide in you is to be in the word.
2.To be in the word is to be in Christ the very word of God made flesh.
3.To do what God requires is to believe on him whom he has sent.

This work, by the working of the Holy Spirit, comes to you and me through the means of grace which points us to Christ so that we abide in him and he abides in us.

8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

The gift of God makes us his …

and through this gift … the Father is glorified in his son …

and we, as his adopted children, are glorified in him and bear much fruit!

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