TEXT: JOHN 16:23-33/JAMES 1:22-27/NUMBERS 21:4-9
GOD GIVE TO YOU A TONGUE THAT ASKS OF HIM!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Dear hearers of the Word made flesh: your tongue is a great and precious treasure. This marvelous, muscular gift of God is richly supplied by nerves and blood vessels. It is the primary organ for your delightful sense of taste – mom’s fresh baked treat warm from the oven – chocolate on a cold winter’s day – your favorite flavor of custard. We too easily disregard the delightful work of the tongue in our remarkable sense of taste. The tongue is also active in phonetics – making the sounds of speech – saying words. Your tongue is no accident that just happened to evolve to give you taste and speech. That idea is silliness. Your tongue is a great and precious gift from God’s creative hand. The more precious the treasure, the more dangerous - if misused.


I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give an account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned (Mt. 12:36). If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless (James 1:26). What is more harmful to loving one’s neighbor than an unbridled tongue that quarrels and deceive? What is more harmful to relationships than an unbridled tongue that gossips – harming reputations? What is more harmful in government than unbridled tongues pompously making false promises? What is more harmful in the church than poisonous unbridled tongues of false preachers – leading astray? James described the tongue – as a fire, a world of unrighteousness…a restless evil, full of deadly poison. His words were first of all aimed at those who would be teachers in the church. Not many of you should become teachers – he wrote – for we who teach will be judged with greater strictness (James 3:1) His sharp warning, however, concerning God’s view of what we say and how we say it applies to all, for – no human being can tame the tongue (James 3:8)

SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER – MAY 10, 2015
TEXT: JOHN 16:23-33/JAMES 1:22-27/NUMBERS 21:4-9
GOD GIVE TO YOU A TONGUE THAT ASKS OF HIM!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Dear hearers of the Word made flesh: your tongue is a great and precious treasure. This marvelous, muscular gift of God is richly supplied by nerves and blood vessels. It is the primary organ for your delightful sense of taste – mom’s fresh baked treat warm from the oven – chocolate on a cold winter’s day – your favorite flavor of custard. We too easily disregard the delightful work of the tongue in our remarkable sense of taste. The tongue is also active in phonetics – making the sounds of speech – saying words. Your tongue is no accident that just happened to evolve to give you taste and speech. That idea is silliness. Your tongue is a great and precious gift from God’s creative hand. The more precious the treasure, the more dangerous - if misused.


I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give an account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned (Mt. 12:36). If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless (James 1:26). What is more harmful to loving one’s neighbor than an unbridled tongue that quarrels and deceive? What is more harmful to relationships than an unbridled tongue that gossips – harming reputations? What is more harmful in government than unbridled tongues pompously making false promises? What is more harmful in the church than poisonous unbridled tongues of false preachers – leading astray? James described the tongue – as a fire, a world of unrighteousness…a restless evil, full of deadly poison. His words were first of all aimed at those who would be teachers in the church. Not many of you should become teachers – he wrote – for we who teach will be judged with greater strictness (James 3:1) His sharp warning, however, concerning God’s view of what we say and how we say it applies to all, for – no human being can tame the tongue (James 3:8)


The tongue’s world of unrighteousness is seen not just in being active when it ought to be still. Its refusal to be tamed is seen in Christians also when it ought to be active and expressive but instead lies quiet and still. Jesus lovingly sets forth the ongoing activity of the tongue that the Father desires of those who believe in Christ. Truly, truly (that is Amen, Amen) I say to you, 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.   


Ask, ask, ask Jesus says! What is more harmful than tongues not asking for God’s name to be holy and God’s kingdom to come and God’s will to be done? I’ll just think about the petitions Jesus taught – one might think. Oh, but how helpful it is when at God’s invitation tongues speak His words that fall on the ear and lodge in the heart. As the Psalm leads us to sing - I cried to Him with my mouth and high praise was on my tongue. What is more impoverishing than tongues not asking to see clearly and believe firmly the completed law – the law of liberty in Christ Jesus? O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise (Psalm 51:5).


Nowhere is the devastation of sin seen more clearly than in our struggle to ask - to pray. The church fathers conveyed that no work on earth is as hard as proper praying. The gap between what should be and what has been in our lives is real.  Your Old Adam is a lazy slug always at work to draw you back from prayer. Satan also hinders your prayers – occupying you with other affairs – persuading you that you’re not ready to pray, that your mood is not right, that you are not worthy to ask God.


Here also God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. Our strength in prayer is always a borrowed strength – which means we do not rely on our own worthiness to pray – ever! No matter what state we perceive ourselves to be in – ready or unworthy – depressed – sad – impatient – angry – burdened with other thoughts – even recognizing evil desires – God wants us to take in what He has to offer us in prayer. Whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Ask and you will receive…


Notice the wonderful foundation for your asking! God pleasing prayers depend entirely on Jesus not the person at prayer. To ask in Jesus’ name means to ask trusting what Jesus’ came in the flesh to do. To ask in Jesus’ name means to ask in keeping with God’s will - trusting in Jesus’ blood and merit. It is God’s will for you to desire forgiveness of sins. It is God’s will for you to have a clean conscience in Christ. It is God’s will for you to have full joy in the things that last for good.


Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full…The hour is coming when…I will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name…I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father. The disciples had surely prayed to the Father in the years of their lives. They had surely prayed with Jesus in their three years of Seminary training by Him. What did Jesus mean by saying, until now you have asked nothing in my name?


Recall again that Jesus spoke these words in the upper room – just hours before His betrayal and arrest. The disciples had not yet asked the Father for anything while believing in Jesus’ suffering and death and resurrection. They had not yet prayed to the Father trusting that in Jesus’ sacrifice sin is forgiven, death is defeated, heaven is opened and everything is made new in His New Testament! After Jesus’ was crushed for their iniquities and raised for their justification, when the Holy Spirit began the ministry of the Ascended Christ to them – then they could see that the Father Himself loved them because they loved Christ and believed He came from God.


As Jesus spoke to them about that time, they thought they already understood…now you are speaking plainly…they said. Jesus answered them…”Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Thank the Father in heaven for the hour Jesus spoke of. It was the hour and power of darkness. It was the time when the one human being who tamed His tongue prayed for the forgiveness of our unbridled tongues. Thank the Father in heaven that He who here said “yet I am not alone for the Father is with me” in a few hours would cry out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 


See the strength of the Father’s love for you in the gift of His Son – Jesus Christ. The Father loves you with all His heart – yes, sinner that you are! You can give no higher praise to Him than calling upon Him in trouble – real trouble – stubborn sin trouble – recurring doubt trouble! Just as a mother’s heart aches when an infant cries out in illness or pain, so God says “My heart yearns for him…I will surely have mercy on him” (Jer. 31:20).


Asking the Father for mercy in Jesus’ name is asking with confidence in Christ’s intercession for you not in the level or worth of your own intercession. We are neither worthy of the things for which we pray, nor have we deserved them, but we ask that He would give them all to us by grace, for we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment. “Be courageous and leap over both worthiness and unworthiness, even though you are steeped in sin…even when conscious and terrified by sin (Luther, AE 24:387). God be merciful to me the sinner and Lord have mercy are sweet sounds to your loving Father. God is so pleased for you to speak with Him as dear children speak to their dear Father trusting that you receive not punishment but pardon and peace from Him in Christ.


“I have said these things to you that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”  Unfulfilled desires, ongoing pressures, unanswered questions, persecution and martyrdom of Christians – these should not surprise. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. In His “going to the Father” Jesus overcame the limits of this passing world.


Baptized into Christ you also are going to the Father. Even if God does not respond exactly as you wish in the tribulations of this world – the war is won – the future is yours in Him. Jesus ushers you into the Father’s presence and prays with you from the font to the moment of your death. That’s why the liturgy leads us to say “The Lord be with you” – “and also with you” as the collect is prayed. Jesus is present – praying it with us and for us. We may joyfully step before God the Father in the peace of Jesus’ words who still intercedes for us at the right hand of God (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 4:15).


As we anticipate praising Christ for His mighty Ascension this Thursday, we recall that between His resurrection and His Ascension Jesus did not fit back into the lives of his disciples as they had been living with Him previously. His visible presence was soon to be withdrawn. They were to walk by faith not by sight. They had prayed with sight – now they were to pray with faith alone. So is is for us now!


Truly, truly I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name He will give it to you. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. The Father’s thoughts toward you are surely made known in the Lord’s Prayer and He bids you call Him “Father.”  Lots of words are not necessary and even your longing sighs are not hidden from God (Psalm 38:9). But He has given to you such a marvelous gift in your tongue – so fit to call upon Him in ongoing trouble and tribulation – so fit to speak and sing His praise with thanksgiving and trust.


He wipes away all of its sins of omission and commission. That’s why He places His body and His blood on your tongue at His Table today. Jesus has also tamed the tongue of Satan – the Father of lies. He cannot accuse you before your Father in heaven. The one tongue heard there on your account is the tongue of Jesus. His intercession frees you to thank God for morning light with Psalms as the birds do in song and to pray for safekeeping as you lie down to sleep and to thank God at table for His gifts of food. Soon your joy will be full. Nothing will remain to be desired. And even now – “Blessed be God, because He has not rejected your prayer or removed His steadfast love from you. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a