The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Ustream

May 31, Ascension Day Holy Communion,
7 PM Centray Daylight Time
NT Greek Lessons - Thursdays, 7 PM.

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works as gregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Bente's Historical Introductions,
and Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Rogate (Prayer) Sunday - The Fifth Sunday after Easter, 2017




Rogate 2017 - The Fifth Sunday after Easter. 

 Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


The Hymn # 202                         Welcome Happy Morning                           
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
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 
The Gospel 
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

Prayer Is the Fruit of Faith

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.



Prayer Is the Fruit of Faith
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.

Luther:
1. We are accustomed to read today’s Gospel on this Sunday because it treats of prayer and this week is called Rogation (Supplication) week, in which we give ourselves to prayer and to processions with crosses. Those who first instituted it, no doubt, meant it well, but it has proven to work harm. For, in the processions heretofore, many unchristian things have been practiced, and there has been no praying at all or very little; so that the processions were rightly abolished and discontinued. Often have I admonished that we should persevere in prayer, for there is great need of it. Since the outward prating and muttering of prayer is done away with, we no longer pray in any way. This is a good indication that we heretofore, notwithstanding our many prayers, never prayed.

Today there are also many abuses, especially when people make a public display of prayer. At the LCA seminary they organized a 24 hour of prayer, with someone posted at a given spot. I think they were creating a demonstration for peace. The organizer said, "We need you to fill in a slot. You don't have to pray." I declined to join them in their sanctimony.

Luther's statement about St. Stephen, the first martyr, should be remembered for all things that are undertaken in the Name of Christ. That must begin with faith in Him, which means setting aside our wisdom and letting the wisdom of the Scriptures supplant our wise-foolishness. In many circumstances, people mix man's wisdom with God's, and that is just like gardening. When it is a matter of weeds versus valuable plants, bet on the weeds. The weeds will always win in the untended garden, which is their goal, to reclaim and build up the soil, not to be pretty.

Man's wisdom is the same. We naturally have our own way of thinking, and it is influenced by people around us. A lot of common wisdom is slowly merged with God's Word and then we give credit to man's wisdom for good outcomes. The cross is always attached to the Gospel, so that discourages people. We are like those who see the thorns on the rose instead of the rose on the thorn bush.

And in that day ye shall ask me nothing

This is one of those abrupt verses that make us take notice. We can see that in its context. They were with the Lord for three years and asked Him about many things, all the time. When they were troubled, they asked each other, of course, because that is the way we are.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

So here we have the other part of the abrupt change. From now on they will be asking God the Father directly, but in the Name of Christ. And He promises that He will give whatever they ask.

This is a absolute in the Scriptures - when God urges us to pray, He also moves us to pray through His Promises. The olde English is especially good in this regard - whatsoever ye shall ask. There are no maybes, no qualifications. Because God does not operate in our time system, that means it will happen.

24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

The wise guys of rationalism like to pit John against the first three Gospels, but this is exactly. But Jesus taught the same in Matthew.

Matthew 7:7-8King James Version (KJV)

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
We can see that Jesus always taught this because He wanted His disciples to enjoy the blessings of the Faith.
That is why the Law salesmen are always so miserable. They believe that the sins from the works of the flesh can be forgiven through their good works, which always seem especially self-serving. They find no joy in that, so they become more bitter and angry as time progresses. They may actually make themselves bleed in their profession of holiness, but they receive no forgiveness and no satisfaction from those acts - except the praise of men. For example, there are works-saints who crawl on their knees , those who whip themselves, and others who do similar foolish things.
The most powerful but sick groups are those who urge such measures in the Name of Christ when they are really tools of their Father Below. Opus Dei is one such secretive cult, and there are many others.
That is a great form of motivation from Christ, that this one act of faith will always bring about divine results. The proof we get is the failure of our own efforts and the answers that come "out of the blue" as many say. It is only in looking back that we find this to be true, so that builds faith, too, seeing how sure and reliable God's Promises are.
Someone said to me, "I don't know how this will end, what lies in the future." I said, "Nothing that happened to me was in the realm of my imagination." In fact, most happened from outwardly negative circumstances. If I had enjoyed my own dreams, I would have been a book editor, and that would have ended my craving to write about the Faith. Editors never write - they just edit. 


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.

We live in that era promised by Jesus. He teaches us openly about Father, and all the mysterious passages are clear if we spend some time with them. As everyone must remember from the passage about "a little while," that expression is going to define everything God does. It is always a little while. Lat night our Army Ranger friend said, "It takes forever to reach the age of 21. And then it seems like a week later, and we are 35 years old." My other neighbor said the same thing, still shaking his head that we have been next door for years.
During the waiting for God, it is not a little while. But looking back that is true, which is why we should enjoy every moment He gives and and look for the Promises to be fulfilled in a little while. 
If we know the Gospel, then we also comprehend how gracious God is, because we share one common characteristic, being sinful. If justice were measured out toward us, instead of mercy, we would have terrible, miserable lives. But forgiveness is healing and bears fruit at the same time.
Some get this mixed up because they urge others to pray Jesus into their hearts. If they believe in Jesus enough to pray to Him, they already have faith. The Gospel Word creates faith in our hearts, and prayer is the fruit of faith. 
When people teach wrongly about faith, they place the burden on man - pray hard enough, pray long enough, pray with certain characteristics - such as tongues. Those outward qualifiers of man take away from the foundation, which is faith in Christ.
Following Luther, the five standards of prayer are:
  1. The Promise.
  2. Faith in Him.
  3. Asking for specific spiritual needs.
  4. Asking.
  5. Asking in the Name of Christ.

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.

This is a very important passage, because it emphasizes a truth, and this truth should move us always to trust in Him for answers. When everything seems dark and hopeless. unbelievers see God as angry, punishing them for their mistakes and sins. But God loves us for loving His Son, and we do not hesitate to approach someone who loves us.
Our grandson was being a typical boy his age at lunch yesterday. His mother and two sisters were urging him to have better manners. I said, "He knows he is protected by an invisible shield. He is sitting between two grandparents."
Therefore, all Christian believers are loved by God the Father, who not only answers in the Name of Christ, but also because He loves those who love His Son. Why hesitate?
Katherine Hepburn in The African Queen has a great line that is suitable for his lesson. She prays to God, "Do not judge us according to our sins, but according to our love." With some adjustment, that is what is being portrayed here. God does not condemn us for our sins, since we believe in His Son, but sees our love and loves us in return.



28 I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. 
We take this knowledge for granted, perhaps, but it was new to the disciples and beyond their imagination. Yes, they knew the power of Christ, seeing it so many times. But to see Him as the eternal Son of God, the Creating Word, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, that took some time.

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.

This shows us how much the disciples appreciated the divine mission of Christ before the crucifixion. So they were daunted, confused, and frightened almost to death. But they stayed together and were united as apostles.

Praying for Ourselves and for Others
Sometimes I think back to earlier decades when loyalty to employees was a given, so nationally it was thought that big companies owed something to employees, congregations owed loyalty to ministers. That has been blown to pieces and few think that way. Instead, highly skilled people think, for good reason, that they can be replaced by non-citizens, legal or illegal.
So many get set aside today and suffer for it. When employment situations cause agony, there is no fault in praying for a solution for ourselves or for others. I recall several circumstances when all seemed bleak at the moment, yet great abundance followed, beyond all hope, as the Hobbits say in The Lord of the Rings
And many have very difficult circumstances. We should always remember those in our prayers. I have seen so many good things happen to others that I never hesitate to pray for them. In this age of written communications on the Net, it is easy to compose a prayer and send it to the person. 
I had the ugliest front yard in the region, a few weeks ago. I had brown mulch, brown to black tree stumps, a few weeds, and the straggly profiles of roses that were not even leafing out. My neighbors had lush green grass fertilized by plenty of rain, with patches of typical lawn flowers (weeds) like Speedwell.
Now the sunlight has send the roses into bloom, not all at once. But the survivors have green up and started to bud. The Veterans Honor, Queen Elizabeth, KnockOuts, and Easy Does It roses are making our frontyard the most colorful. I would love to see everything in the yard in bloom at once, but God has his own timetable. The Elderberries and Blackberries are fruiting now, but the Beautyberries will fruit in the fall, to feed the birds late in the season. God's wisdom spreads out the fruiting of all the plants, so we can enjoy and harvest from each one.
So in life we can see how God gives us blessings for each stage in life, even during the most painful times. I am often reminded of Luther saying, "God is so powerful that He can turn the greatest evil into the greatest good, as He did with Christ dying on the cross for our sins."