Easter 6 + John 16:23-33
Our heavenly Father loves us.
His desire is to break and stop every evil plan and purpose of the devil, who desires our destruction.
His purpose is to break and stop every evil plan and purpose of the world, which desires our death.
His holy will is to break and stop every evil plan and purpose of our own sinful flesh, for we desire separation from God, we want to be God.
This unholy trinity of the devil, the world and our own sinful flesh attack us from outside and within.
They keep us from calling upon God’s name in prayer, praise and the giving of thanks.
They do not want us to ask for anything in Jesus name, that our joy may be full.
They keep us from holding God’s Word sacred, gladly hearing it and learning it.
The devil, the world and our own sinful flesh do not want us to fear, love and trust in God above all things.
Everything our heavenly Father does is for our good. Everything our heavenly Father gives us is for our good.
Everything our heavenly Father does is for our forgiveness, life and eternal salvation.
His desire is that we would be with Him forever.
That is why Jesus returned to His Father in heaven, to prepare a place for us, a place where there is no more suffering, no more pain, no more tears, only rejoicing.
Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
His is the kingdom and the power and the glory to accomplish it. He will do it, just as He promised.
With His death on the cross, resurrection from the grave, and ascension into heaven, Jesus has overcome the world, the devil and our own sinful flesh. They have no power over us. We are victorious.
Jesus has said and done all these things for us. In Him we have peace, in Him we rejoice..
This Thursday will be 40 days since Easter, since our Lord rose from the dead on the Third Day.
On Thursday, the church celebrates our Lord’s ascension into heaven, where He now sits at the Father’s right hand, controlling and ordering our days and our deeds, that His holy plan and purpose for us and for our lives would be accomplished.
Before His ascension Jesus said, “Whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive that your joy may be full.”
Brothers and sisters in Christ, until our Lord’ second coming, our days are to be days of prayer.
We are to be about asking for our heavenly Father’s mercy to be upon us, that He would bless us and keep us from all evils of body and soul, that sickness and pain would be removed, that there would be seasonable weather for planting and that there would be a bountiful harvest in the fall, that those who are baptized and confirmed would be kept firm in Christ, in the one true faith, and that those who have rejected the faith would, by the power of the Holy Spirit, stop doubting, repent and believe.
With the birth of a baby, there is the promise of prosperity and a continuation of the family, but there is also sickness and suffering and death.
With the spring, when the fields are being planted, there is promise of a good harvest, but there is also frost, hail, flooding, wind, insects and disease.
In our prayers, we are reminded that we are weak and not in control. In humility and repentance, we confidently turn to the giver of every good and perfect gift for help. Our help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
He who created us, promises to take care of us, opening His hands and richly and daily providing for us.
It is not the earth and all its abundance that determines whether there will be a bountiful harvest.
The creation cannot produce a crop.
It is not the strong back or the busy hands of man that will determine whether there will be a bountiful harvest. The creation cannot produce a crop. We cannot even stop it from raining.
It is our heavenly Father, the Creator of heaven and earth, who gives the increase. He is the God of life. He is the One who orders all things according to His holy will and divine purpose.
That is why our eyes look to our Lord, waiting for Him to give us our food at the proper time, satisfying our every need.
Our prayer is always, “Our help is in the name of the Lord: who made heaven and earth.”
Because of our gracious and merciful heavenly Father, our cup runs over, His goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our life and we will dwell in His house forever.
Today we welcome into membership Deb Betz and her son Devin Betz.
Today, with Deb and Devin, we give thanks that we are baptized children of God. Baptism saves us.
Today, we are reminded that we who are baptized are and have been removed from the evil clutches of the devil, the world and her own sinful flesh.
Today, we are reminded that we have received the gift of faith by the power of the Holy Spirit.
God dwells in us, we are His holy temple.
We confess, with all the saints in heaven and on earth, our fear, love and trust in God above all things.
This is why we confess together the Apostles’ Creed, in these words we are reminded of the God who created us, died and rose and ascended for us, and still takes care of us.
We know that the forgiveness of sins is ours, the resurrection of the body is ours, eternal life in heaven is ours. God is our heavenly Father and Jesus is our brother. We are members of God’s family.
But unless Deb and Devin and each one of us continues to hear the Word of God preached and taught in all of its truth and purity, the devil will come back and take back what once belonged to him.
Unless we continue to be taught the faith, unless we are taught the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer we will go astray, like a sheep without a shepherd.
The words of the Ten Commandments must be upon our hearts and minds, that we would live by them and be encouraged by them.
The words of the Apostles’ Creed and Lord’s Prayer must be continually on our lips, that we would be confident and find strength in what God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have done and continue to do for us.
Unless we remember our baptism, repents of our sins and hears forgiveness for our sins, we will be like a branch cut off from the vine, there will be no life in us.
Unless we come to the Lord’s Supper and participate in our Lord’s life, death and resurrection, we will not taste and see that the Lord is good, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love toward us.
Unless we eat the bread, which is Jesus’ body and drink the wine, which is Jesus’ blood, we will be like a branch cut off from the vine, there will be no life in us.
Jesus is the Sower of the Seed, has begun a good work in us, and unless He is allowed to bring life and create life and renew life within us, there will only be death and judgment and condemnation in us.
Jesus is the Sower of the Seed, He is the One who has created each one of us. He has given us life. He has sown the Seed of faith in us. He will produce a bountiful harvest in us. He will give us a blessed end.
But unless He is allowed to water and fertilize and weed and prune, there will be no harvest.
Jesus is the Vine and we are the branches.
At our baptism we were all grafted into Jesus, but unless we allow the Vine to feed us with His life-giving body and blood in His Holy Supper, there will be no life in us. We will not grow in faith toward God and fervent love toward our neighbor. We will wither and die and thrown into the fire.
But we rejoice, God is faithful to us. He will do what He has promised for us. Jesus is with each one of us. He will never leave us or forget about us, even if we leave Him and want nothing to do with Him. Jesus will richly and daily provide for us.
And until Jesus comes again to judge the quick and the dead, we need not be afraid, but watch and pray, believing His promises, trusting Him and receive His gifts of grace, mercy and peace; they are our highest good.
Jesus will produce a bountiful harvest. In this we trust. This is our daily prayer. Thanks be to God. Amen.