Sunday, July 25, 2010

“Pleading Abraham and A Merciful God” (Gen. 18:23-24)

S-1200 7/25/10 9SAP/3C Hymns: (O) #40; S#773 LSB; LS. #279; #330; #327; (C) #644

Texts: Genesis 18:20-33, Colossians 2:16-15; Luke 11:1-13

Theme: “Pleading Abraham and A Merciful God” (Gen. 18:23-24)

Question: Have you pleaded with God lately?


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleuia. The text for our meditation is the Old Testament lesson: “Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked” Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it?”

People of God, CHOSEN and BELOVED, the opening words of Psalm 88 are very descriptive. Listen please and see in your minds eye the plea that is sent heaven-ward by its author Asaph. “O Lord God, my savior, I cry out to you during the day and at night. Let my prayer come into your presence. Turn your ear to hear my cries” (Ps. 88:1-2). This servant of the most high God pleads with Him to turn His ear towards His supplication and hear what he is asking Him to do. This request is poignant that he doesn’t want God to be distracted at all, but to turn His full attention to him.

Today, we meet Abraham (father of many nations) pleading with God to spare the community where his nephew lot lived. The conversation is very revealing of the heart of Abraham. God comes and says, “I am about to destroy this city for their wickedness.” But Abraham pleads to the God of all mercy not do that, saying, “Would You destroy the righteous with the unrighteous?” They begin at 50 and go down all the way to ten, and God promised for the sake of 10 He wouldn’t destroy the people or the land.

This lesson teaches us much. As Abraham’s children by faith and God’s children by grace through baptism we are to ask boldly and courageously from the loving Father for all that we need.

We read in the Introit, “Call upon Me in the Day of Trouble and I will deliver you and you will honor Me!” (Psalm 50:15). This is what our God does—He hears the prayers of His people. In the Gospel account we meet Jesus who tells us to call upon the Lord. To pray to Him and He will answer our prayers. Ask the Father for what you need; He will deliver you from death and destruction.

What a privilege you and I have as the beloved children of God. We can follow the examples of Father Abraham, Asaph (author of Psalm 88, 50) and Jesus to bring our pleas, petitions and prayers before the Throne of Grace.

Ask! That’s precisely what Abraham did for Sodom and Gomorrah, for Lot his brother. These two cities perished, for here were not even ten who believed in the Lord! Lot loved his hometown. He left the fertile plain where these cities were, sojourned during their destruction in a town so small that he pled for it to be spared, and it was. Lot went from the prosperous and familiar to the poverty and faithlessness. He needed daily bread. In everything the Lord heard his cries for mercy, the Lord was with him. The Lord provided as a Father. Here is a precursor of Manna from heaven. The Lord provided for Lot!

As Abraham pled for his nephew Lot, he pleads for you, his brother, his sister. We are privileged to plead for one another today! PAUSE.

Beloved in the Lord, prayer is the privilege of family. Yes, the Privilege of Family! Jesus’ disciples know how John the Baptist taught his disciples, now, as His followers they come to Jesus and ask Him to teach them how to pray. It’s “daddy, show me how its done!” This is the privilege of family - both to be taught how to pray, and then, to pray – boldly!

It is the boldness of family, of a son, that marked Abraham’s prayer for Sodom and Gomorrah. It is the boldness of family that marks the prayers of Jesus and His beloved Bride—the Church. Look at His instructions: When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be Your name. 2 Your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread, 4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”

What does Jesus, the Master Teacher and Rabbi from Nazareth teaches His disciples and us? The first to call God “Father.” He is not to be addressed here as mighty and majestic, all powerful, like super power Oz! When you pray say, “Father...” This indicates intimate connectedness to the One who created us and formed us and redeemed us by sending His only Son. We are not Muslims who dare NOT call God Father. But as His beloved children, we dare and delight in calling Him Father, because Jesus said, we should and could and so we do boldly pleading for His mercy and compassion to hear and heed our prayers.

Don’t forget my beloved people; prayer is the privilege of a child with His Father. The Father’s love enables boldness, the kind of boldness that will awaken the neighbor at midnight to ask for three loaves of bread. Addressing Him as our Father, we ask that His name be kept sacred among us - that we treat Him with respect, honor, and delight - to see Him as beloved Father and ourselves as beloved Children. This is the privilege of family. Each person is properly honored. Behold the Trinity: Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit, three distinct persons, all doing their part to bless and redeem, to reconcile and renew, to make the lost and the dead into the children of adoption and life, the children of God.

With boldness we approach the Throne of Grace because the door has been opened by the True Son of the Father. We are bold to pray and plead because God has promised to hear us for the sake of the gracious blood of Christ to sinners - through the love of the Father, in the Comfort of the Spirit! In this kingdom we boldly ask for this gift of forgiveness and peace for ourselves, and then for Him to flow through us to others.

By the Spirit’s power we learn to listen to father Abraham, Asaph and Jesus as they visit with the Father of mercy to hear them. Abraham pleaded for Sodom and Gomorrah, Asaph prayed to the Lord to deliver Him from trouble, and Jesus, from the cross pleaded with the ALL compassionate Father to forgive those who nailed Him to the cross.

What privileges await us His beloved and chosen people in that we can lift our voices to Him and He will hear us for the sake of Christ alone. That is what is so special about these text for the 9th Sunday After Pentecost—they teaches us to come to God, pour our hearts’ desires at His feet and wait patiently for His will to be carried out. PAUSE.

As I stated above, the Lord’s Prayer is the Privilege of Family. So ask and keep on asking, seek, and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking, for He hears and loves and answers and gives more abundantly than we even know how to ask. In fact, our Daddy God, our Abba Father, the object of this Prayer and its Subject as well, He has sent His Son, His only-begotten Son, to be tempted in our stead.

The Scriptures clearly teach and tell us how it was the Spirit who led Jesus away into the wilderness where the devil would attack Him. What we are unable to do, what Adam and Eve couldn’t do - resist the tempter’s powers of lies in persuasion, God the Son did, perfectly. Yes, our Catechism is correct: God tempts no one! That is because His heart is nothing but truth and not a lie. All temptations are lies. It is also because in Jesus He has answered every lie with the truth that death dies in Jesus.

Today, as we gather in the Lord’s house keep in mind what we come here for. We come to receive ALL of the blessings God offers us—forgiveness of sins, manna for the journey, peace in troubled times, joy in mourning times, love all the time.

Today, you heard Abraham plead for Sodom and Gomorrah, but more importantly you heard of the plea of the Savior for your soul and mine. Even now, Jesus pleads with the Father from the cross. Father, forgive them…. – Even today, He still intercedes for us and gives us mercy and grace that we don’t deserve.

What a privilege to be a family—a family that has been blessed by God through Jesus Christ. A family that can with confidence and conviction lift our prayers, petitions and pleas and know that God will hear and answer our prayers in accordance with His will for our lives for the sake of the Rabbi from Nazareth who taught us to pray: “Our Father…”

Thanks be to God that we can pray here and everywhere knowing that the Merciful Father hears and answers our prayers. Amen.

Now the peace…

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