Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time
The Hymn # 202 Welcome Happy Morning
The Confession of Sins
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #454 Prayer Is the Soul's Sincere Desire
Essentials of Prayer
The Communion Hymn # 207 Like the Golden Sun
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #457 What a Friend We Have in Jesus
KJV James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. 26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. 27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
KJV John 16:23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. 24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. 25 These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. 26 At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: 27 For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. 28 I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. 29 His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. 30 Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.
Fifth Sunday After Easter
Lord God, heavenly Father, who through Thy Son didst promise us that whatsoever we ask in His name Thou wilt give us: We beseech Thee, keep us in Thy word, and grant us Thy Holy Spirit, that He may govern us according to Thy will; protect us from the power of the devil, from false doctrine and worship; also defend our lives against all danger; grant us Thy blessing and peace, that we may in all things perceive Thy merciful help, and both now and forever praise and glorify Thee as our gracious Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.
In other words - never doubt or figure out the Promises of God. Tis funny, how so manyvideos feature people doing things that are obviously impossible, given the basic rules of gravity. They cannot leap high enough to make up for the distance and natural dropping speed. But off they go. But when urged to pray, people start figuring out what God can and would do. This is rationalistic behavior, which is always at war against faith in God. If you want to see this at work, attend a council meeting. Those deliberating sound more like atheists in the chorus of "It cannot be done."
That is a parallel to Luther's rant about Medieval prayer processions, which the Lutherans ended. Little praying was done, and when they ended, there was no praying. Luther said, "It shows no one knew how to pray and no one prayed in the first place."
This is our constant challenge, because we normally figure out what will work and what will not work. We calculate costs, benefits, crop yields and bond yields. But God can set aside all the rules and often does.
If people tell Him how and when to act, He naturally does nothing, because those orders come from doubt and calculation, not from faith in Him.
25 These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. 26 At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: 27 For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.
Doubting and calculating is really an attack on the nature of God. It is not to be a case of "It won't hurt to try." This is often the approach used in the media, lacking anything else to say. "The only thing left is to pray." That makes prayer the last rather than the first. Prayer comes from restful, peaceful hearts that trust in the grace and power of God. We know God has the gracious will and the power to do anything.
In 1985 an earthquake collapsed a hospital in Mexico. Newborns were in that nursery and shut off from all human contact, all water, all food - for 8 days. Almost all of them survived and were unharmed. They have been called the miracle babies. This shows what God can do among the weakest.
Likewise, He can topple the most powerful and the richest on earth, because no one can equal His power. Thus He can let us wait for years and answer our prayers in a moment.
My cousin was married 25 years before they had a baby. That was must as much a miracle for them as the healing of the Centurions's servant.
28 I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. 29 His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. 30 Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.
Luther pointed out that our prayers cannot come from our worthiness, because if we wait to be worthy, we will never pray. We pray based on the righteousness of Christ. Because He gives us this relationship to His Father, we are encouraged to pray in trust.
The Father loves us because we love the Son. To doubt that means doubting the Gospel.
I routinely work with those who take Christianity classes and think only of the Law. They write, "God will not give us good things if we do not obey Him." I try to get them to see the folly of this kind of thinking, because it leads back to earning God's favor rather than believing in His gracious Promises. Earning God's favor can make us really good Pharisees at best.
7. In the fifth place, one should so act in this confidence of prayer as not to limit God and specify the day or place, nor designate the way or measure of the prayer’s fulfillment; but leave all to his own will, wisdom and almighty power. Then confidently and cheerfully await the answer, not even wishing to know how and where, how soon, how long, and through whom. His divine wisdom will find far better ways and measures, time and place, than we can devise, even should we perform miracles. So, in the Old Testament, the children of Israel all trusted in God to deliver them while yet there was no possible way before their eyes, nor even in their thoughts; then the Red Sea parted and offered them a way through the waters, and suddenly drowned all their enemies. Exodus 14.
Life is much easier when lived in faith, because we have confidence in God rather than in ourselves. That does not eliminate the cross but invites it. In faith we see God fulfilling His Promises all the time, while others, lacking faith, do not see God's blessings at all.
The garden is a perfect place to see this. God reveals to us His Creation, His design, and His purpose. If we give Him a chance to work His wonders, instead of poisoning His world, He shows us how powerful His Spirit is.
I have been plotting how to nurture toads in the backyard ever since reading Sharon Lovejoy. Yesterday I checked a pan in the front yard, to see if the AC was working and dripping there. I moved the pan and specks swam all around. What's that? I had a toad pond develop in the front, on its own, while I was figuring out one (and failing so far) in the back.
So we are to pray in Jesus' Name, never doubting, never calculating. We are to pray with confidence in God's grace and power. And we are to pray without giving time, manner, and methods for answering those prayers.