Easter 6, May 21, 2017 (Numbers 21:4-9; 1 Timothy 2:1-6; John 16:23-30)


God gives you the gift of a tongue.

The next time the hot morning coffee refreshes you, thank God for the tongue.

The next time you taste Sweet Frog or QT Milkshake, thank God for the tongue.

The next time your spouse or parent or child or friend speaks kind and encouraging words to you, thank God for the tongue.

The next time a Word from God convicts or comforts you, tears down your pride so that He can build you up with Him as your foundation, thank God for the tongue.

What a fantastic gift from God – and O, how dangerous it is when misused!

Our O.T. reading has God’s people speaking against Him with the tongues He gave them.

And alternate reading for this Sunday from James says, If anyone among you thinks He is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. (James 1:26)

What damage our tongue has done to our  relationships when instead of bridling it, controlling it, we have fought, were critical, and deceived others!  O, Lord bridle the sinful tongue.

What damage others tongues have done to us as it took our name and harmed our reputation!  O, Lord, bridle the sinful tongue.


What damage the tongue to communities, countries, workplaces and families when those in authority make false promises or when the tongue of those under authority are constantly speaking ill of those in authority!  O, Lord, bridle the sinful tongue.

No greater damage is done to the church of God in Christ Jesus than when from the pulpit God’s Word is preached falsely and itching ears listen attentively.  O, Lord, bridle the sinful tongue!

And our tongues so often need unbridled, let loose, when we sinfully bridle them.  Like when we should defend someone’s reputation.  Or when we should be confessing Christ’s name before men.  Or especially what we consider today, when we should be using God’s gift of the tongue to ask God for help.  To pray!

Truly, truly, 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.  (John 16:23-24)

Scriptures picture of prayer is not a romantic notion of us sipping wine with Jesus, staying up all night long over a candlelight dinner with Him getting to know us and us getting to know Him and at the end of it, we feel so much closer.

Prayer, instead, is warfare.  If we do feel closer to God after, it’s because God has battled with us and for us we have battled with God.  It’s closeness like the bond of a military brotherhood.

Prayer is warfare.  Prayer is war against yourself, your sinful flesh that is a lazy and selfish slug which is always at work to draw you away from God and His will and toward yourself.

Prayer is warfare against Satan who wants us to think that there’s more important things to God than to ask God for help for yourself and for other.  Or to persuade you that you’re not ready to pray, that your mood is not right, or that you are not worthy to ask God.
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 praying. The gap between what should be and what we are in our Christian lives of prayer is huge!

This, though, is the reason the Christian takes great joy in hearing Jesus say, Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name.

That is, the foundation for everything in our life, especially in our asking, is not dependent upon us or our name or our merits, but upon the person and work and words of Jesus!

To ask in Jesus’ name does not mean we magically stick the phrase on the back end of any prayer, but it’s John shorthand way of saying, ask in faith in Jesus’ person, work, and merit.

When Jesus says the disciples will ask in His name only after He goes to the Father, He is saying He will die, be raised, be ascended and interceding for them and with faith in Him, they will ask.

They will ask with faith in the forgiveness of their sins.  For god desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1 Tim. 2:4)

They will ask with faith that they have a clean conscience before the Father and the Father is at peace with them.  For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.  (1 Tim. 2:5)

They will ask in faith that Jesus gives us a joy the fills us.  Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

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 – the question is not about us, it’s about Jesus.

His meditation.  His ransom.  His work of going to the Father for our sake.  His desire and our Father’s desire to give us good gifts when we ask in times of trouble.

If prayer is warfare, then trouble is assumed!  And it is!

“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.”

Trouble with our sin and temptation.  Trouble with the tongue.  Trouble with others.  Trouble with our prayers.  Trouble in 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.


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.

He wipes away all your sins of the tongue.. 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.

He prays for you and He speaks to you “I have said these things to you that may have peace” and in that peace, we pray to the Lord.  Lord have mercy.  Amen.


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