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Rogate, May 21, 2017 - St. John 16:23b-30

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Posted: Sunday, May 21st, 2017 by Pastor Westgate

“Ask ye.” That’s what that word Rogate means. Normally these Sundays in Lent and Easter are named for the first word of the Introit in Latin, but not today. Today the name comes from the theme of these days before Ascension. The Church for a long time used these days to pray God not to punish us as we justly deserve but to richly bless the fruits of the earth. A chief prayer on these days is The Litany. This ancient prayer of intercession, which Dr. Luther himself revised in 1529, teaches us what all we are praying for when we say The Lord’s Prayer.

The disciples knew they were supposed to pray to God. What they didn’t realize is that God wants to have a close family relationship with all who believe in Jesus. Did they think The Father is this cold individual up in heaven who really didn’t have much to do with them, that stern old man The Boxcar Children thought Grandfather Alden was?

That’s not the picture of God Jesus gives us. Dr. Luther teaches us in The Catechism to ask God boldly and confidently like dear children ask their dear father. It’s the little girl running up to dad asking to watch a show or read a book or the little boy wanting to go outside, standing at the open door, or asking for applesauce. That’s how Jesus tells us to be. Don’t think twice about asking God for something. Don’t think He doesn’t have time for you. Kids ask dad when he has no time for them, but since God is both eternal and almighty, He has both the time and the desire to give His complete attention to every Christian all at the same time!

But the disciples’ idea of what God is like makes sense. When man admits: “There’s a God and I haven’t lived up to His Law,” he’s scared. Why? Because he knows what he justly deserves. The criminal crucified with Jesus knew he was justly punished for his evil deeds, and man when he’s honest with himself realizes he deserves to be punished for his sins with eternal death.

If God would punish us for our sins, how would He treat us in this life? Would the sun shine, grass grow, flowers bloom, trees bear fruit? Would our cars drive straight, our roads stay open, our rivers normally not flood? Would our prayers be heard? No, the sun would go dark, grass die, flowers stink, fruit rot. Our cars would always break down, the roads obstacle courses, our world flooded. Our prayers would not be heard. We would only get the opposite both of what we want and what we need. Sinners in the hands of God angry over sin never get anything good, but only bad.

That’s how God’s Law threatens us. But that’s not how God treats us. That’s not how He treats anybody. He gives daily bread to all of us, even without our prayer; He even gives it to the wicked because He created them too and wants them to come to Him in repentance and faith. Since He gives you everything, ask Him to keep giving it and let Him know what you want and what you need. He will provide what is meet and right for you to have.

Why does God give stuff to people who don’t deserve it? Why does He give us the funds to pay for nice things and all the food we need? It’s not because we deserve it, as much as we’d like to think so. It’s because of Jesus. God gives us every good thing because of Jesus. God loves us because He created us, and He loves us because Jesus died for us.

That’s the picture of God’s love. God’s love is not mere feelings of niceness towards you. God’s love is an action, an action so wide and high and deep that none of us can ever fully imitate or comprehend it. It’s seen in God giving up His Son to death, even the death of the cross. That’s not an easy death. It’s not a death you can romanticize or want to experience. It’s the most cruel execution cruel man ever devised. It’s not divine child abuse, as some claim. It’s God’s love for you on display for all mankind to see.

For God suffered all the sins of the world. He suffered all the illness, disease, torture, and death this world has ever produced. He suffered hell for our sakes, suffered instead of us what we deserve for our sin. He was forsaken by God. God looked to Him like the scary stern guy we don’t like. Yet God The Son trusted God The Father to save Him, to raise Him from the dead.

He came down to earth from The Father and was born of Virgin Mother. By dying He went back to The Father. He broke down what divided us from Him. God never can look at us as the stern scary guy anymore. Now He looks at us as the caring Father Who loves to give gifts to us. Why? Because you are united to Jesus. You wear His Name, dear Christian. Baptism buried you with Him in His Death and raised you to new life in His Resurrection. He is your Brother; God His Father is your Father. He has redeemed His servant Jacob, and He loves you with an undying love.

So pray to Him boldly and confidently. Pray that His Name be hallowed, that we keep it holy because it is holy! How? When it’s taught in its truth and purity and we His children lead holy lives according to its direction. But we profane it when we teach or live contrary to it. To put that in the words of today’s Collect, His Name is hallowed among us when we both think those things that are right and perform them through His merciful guiding. We want to make Him look good!

Pray His kingdom to come to us. Pray our heavenly Father to keep giving us His Spirit so by His grace we and many more will believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here and in eternity. Pray His will be done here on earth like it is in heaven. Pray Him to break and hinder every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, because they team up against us to profane God’s Name and hinder His kingdom’s rule in our lives. Pray Him to strengthen and keep you firm in His Word and faith until you die.

Pray Him for your daily bread, for everything that deals with the support and needs of your body. What’s that? Yes, it’s food and drink, clothing and shoes, house and home, land, animals, all you have. It’s money and goods, a devout spouse, devout children. It’s devout workers or employers, devout and faithful rulers and good government. It’s good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, even more. You’re praying for these things, and you’re praying that what you have would be those things.

Pray Him to see what His Son has done for you instead of your sins so He won’t deny your prayer but answer and fulfill it. We don’t deserve His gifts, since we sin all the time and deserve only His punishment. But we pray Him to give them to us by His grace, His underserved loving-kindness, which will help us forgive and gladly do good to everyone, even those who sin against us.

Since we pray God to forgive us, we pray Him to not lead us into temptation. We know He doesn’t do that, but Jesus wants us to pray Him to keep us from falling into temptation. Our flesh is weak, so we can easily fall any moment. The devil, world and our sinful nature can easily lead us into false belief, despair, shame, or vice in a second, when you least expect it. So God, guard and keep us, and lead us to finally overcome and win the victory! So pray Him to deliver you from evil. Pray our heavenly Father to rescue you from every evil of body and soul, possession and reputation. Pray Him to give you a blessed end and take you from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven. Pray Him to raise you and all your loved ones who have died in The Faith to live with Him forever.

These petitions are pleasing to Him. All our prayers please Him, when they are prayed out of true faith in Him. Your petitions are pleasing to Him and are heard by Him. He will answer them in His time, in His way. He commands you to pray this way because he wants to hear us and loves to hear us. So confess He does this and will do it. Say, Amen.

Categories: Pastor Westgate's Sermons

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