Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Has a Big Mouth (A Sermon based on 1 Corinthians 15:51-57)

Is it spiders and snakes? Bears and moose? Sickness or unemployment? What strikes fear into your heart? For many it's the thought of their own death. But for believers in Christ, death need not frighten us. We can be bold even in the face of death because of Easter. Easter means no fear of death because Easter has a big mouth. It eats big, swallowing up death whole. And it talks big, making big boasts. Read or listen to (download or stream) this sermon based on 1 Corinthians 15:51-57 and have no fear of death...

Easter Means No Fear… of Death!
Easter Has a Big Mouth
A Sermon based on 1 Corinthians 15:51-57
Sunday, April 24, 2011-- Easter Day 

"Man, what a big mouth!" That phrase, "big mouth," which I'm sure has been said of me once or twice before, can mean several things. Usually it's a reference to one who talks too much or especially to one who makes big boasts. But "big mouth" is also a reference to a variety of fish, like the bigmouth goby and the bigmouth buffalo fish, who, as their name implies, have big mouths and swallow their prey whole.

This morning, as we gather together to celebrate the victory that Jesus won for us on Easter, we rejoice that that Easter has a big mouth in both senses of the phrase. Easterhas a big mouth and eats big. It swallows its prey—Death—whole, in one gulp. And Easter has a big mouth and talks big, making great boasts and letting us do the same.

Listen again to Paul's description of this big-mouthed Easter as it's recorded for us in 1 Corinthians 15:51-57... 

51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." 55 "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

I. It Eats Big 

 Did you  like the word the apostle used to describe the way you are right now? You are perishable. Like the eggs that get rotten or the milk that sours, our bodies, our very selves are in a state of decay. In fact, we need to bathe regularly to keep the smell of decay from offending others around us. Cut off the circulation for only a short time and gangrene sets in. This body is born to die.

Why are our bodies so subject to death? Is this how God planned it? No. It's because of sin. "The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law." God's perfect law lays down the standard for which we are to live. Summarized briefly, it says "Love God perfectly above all else and love your neighbor, that is, everyone else around you, as much as you love yourself."

The problem is that though we see the bulls-eye we're aiming for, we miss the mark. In fact, all too often we miss the target altogether. That's what sin is. Even if you try to be loving to everyone else all the time, selfishness creeps in, and you choose to serve yourselves rather than God. So do I. And for one failure to keep God's law, for one missed opportunity to proclaim God's love to others by word or by deed, for one good thing left undone, for one sin no matter how small it may seem, we are less than perfect. And the many sins we commit daily give death its sting.

Play with a scorpion and you're bound to get stung. Play with sin and selfishness and the stinger is a lot bigger than a scorpions. Death hits hard. When Adam and Eve rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden, he followed though on his promise: that because they ate from the tree which he had forbidden, they would surely die. From dust we've all been made and to dust we will return. Death is chasing all of us, eager to devour us and swallow us whole. And its appetite is never satisfied. Like a sniper it will pick us off one by one. For our sin we are perishable, mortal, dying. And if left to ourselves, that physical death ends in eternal death in hell where the living dead cannot die.

In a popular movie from a few years ago the heroes of the story were in a submarine of sorts fleeing a giant sea monster, right on their tail, ready to devour them in one quick gulp. But just as it grabs their sub in its teeth, an even bigger sea monster grabs it and they make their escape. Likewise, as powerful and consuming as death is, our risen Savior wants us to know that there's something even bigger than death that has the final word. Death itself is swallowed whole by Easter.

Like the Giant African Python swallowing a whole deer, Jesus' victory swallows up death whole. The Psalmist wrote, "Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him." (Psalm 32:1-2) When Jesus went to the cross, he took every one of your sins on himself. He swallowed them whole into himself. And as he endured hell itself on that cross in payment for your sins, he took every one of those sins away. They are all forgiven and covered. Not a one of them will be counted against you.

And so, even though you and I will still die a physical death, we won't die forever in hell like we deserve. Because of Easter, Death has lost its sting. It's been swallowed up in victory.

A young family was taking a road trip to visit family in the Midwest. When the sun was shining, the windows were down, but as the sprinkles started to hit, the windows went up. Seconds later chaos broke out in the back seat. A bee that had been pinned in the back window by the wind, was now free to terrorize the kids. While still driving, dad quickly reached back and grabbed the bee with his hand. But soon he let go and the bee flied out of his hands into the backseat again. The kids panic resumed until dad explained that the bee couldn't hurt them anymore. He had no more stinger. The stinger was stuck in the palm of dad's hand. The stinger didn't just vanish, but was spent on someone else. 

Death's sting didn't just disappear, but was spent on Jesus. You know Jesus could have left the cross if he wanted. But he didn't because his hand was clamped down on the fury of hell to rob Death of its stinger. Now Death can buzz and annoy, but it can't really hurt us. The stinger's gone. And so the victory that Jesus gives can be a big mouth and talk big! Listen to how it taunts Death... 

II. It Talks Big 

"Death has been swallowed up in victory." "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" Bold words, aren't they? When you're in a fight with someone bigger than you and stronger than you, it's usually best to just keep your mouth shut, right? Why taunt one that you know can easily beat you up? Was Paul just being foolish when he taunted death? No. He was actually paraphrasing the Old Testament. In Hosea 13:14 God himself promised, "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction?"

You see with the confidence of Easter, of sins forgiven, of a certain resurrection, Death which was sure to overtake Paul had lost its stinger. Paul knew the mystery of what would happen after this short life was over. And he revealed that mystery to the Corinthians and to us: "Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality."

Though we deserve to perish in hell, "thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." So we don't need to be afraid—not even of death!

And because of Easter, you and I can boast just as Paul did. The victory that we have talks big! Physical death will still come, but it won't destroy us. It will transform us. We'll transform, not like vehicles becoming robots, but much better. It will be a complete transformation. And it won't take hours of surgery with weeks of recovery. It will take place instantly. In a flash! In the twinkling of an eye! Jesus will return and we who were once perishable and subject to decay will be clothed with the imperishable. We who were once mortal and subject to death will be clothed with immortality. And though we die, we will live! Forever and ever!

And so, we too can talk big. We can boast over death! Have you lost a love one to that sniper, Death, recently? Are you looking over your shoulder for that Grim Reaper more often as you get older and the decay we're all subject to seems to win more and more battles? Then remember the victory that God gives through our Lord Jesus Christ! And laugh at Death in its weak and pitiful state! "Ha! You may take my life, but you can't really hurt me! I will live forever! I have found the fountain of youth that makes me immortal! Or rather, he found me. I may die, but you've lost your sting! I will live again! And how glorious it will be! So bring it on, Death!"

And when you've sufficiently boasted in your Savior and taunted Death to your satisfaction, then get a big mouth that can't stop talking about what your Savior has done for you! Share the Good News with those who are being swallowed up in their sin and in the hopelessness of this life. Share with them how "Death has been swallowed up in victory." For when it's about Easter, you can never talk too much! May God bless you and your big mouths as you boast in the victory your Savior won! Easter means no fear! Not even of death! For he is risen! He is risen indeed! Amen.

In Him,
Pastor Rob Guenther

Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
47585 Ciechanski Road, Kenai, AK 99611

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

See, Your King Comes to You! (A sermon based on Zechariah 9:9-10)

Sometimes it may seem like there's not much joy in life, but this Palm Sunday, God reminds us that we can always rejoice in our King who came to bring us salvation! We really do have something to shout about and share with everyone: That our sins are forgiven by Jesus' work in Jerusalem that first Holy Week. Read or listen to (download or stream) this sermon based on Zechariah 9:9-10 and rejoice in, then shout about, the salvation we have in Jesus!

See, Your King Comes to You!

A sermon based on Zechariah 9:9-10

Sunday, April 17, 2011 – Palm Sunday A


Rejoice! When's the last time you used that word outside of church? It's not really a word we use every day, is it? But the concept is something we're familiar with. Our baby was born healthy and well! And we rejoice! Grandma made it into town, so mom and dad get a night out. And we rejoice! I got the job! I got the promotion! And we rejoice!

But at times it might not be so easy to rejoice. I lost the job. The marriage is in ruins. The baby didn't make it. And we might give Zechariah a questioning look when he tells us to rejoice. Rejoice, huh? Zechariah, you obviously know nothing about the way life usually works. So many things rob us of our joy and make it hard to rejoice.

But this morning as we look at one more Old Testament prophecy describing the coming Messiah this Lenten season, we're reminded that no matter how bad things may seem, no matter how bad things may be, we can still rejoice. We can rejoice in our King, Jesus, who comes to win our salvation. And once we rejoice in what he's done for us, we can shout and proclaim his peace to the ends of the earth. Listen again to Zechariah's Palm Sunday prophecy recorded for us in Zechariah 9:9-10…


9 Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.


I.              Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion! 

Zechariah has been called "The Holy Week Prophet." He prophesied that Jesus would be sold for thirty pieces of silver. He prophesied that when the Shepherd  would be struck, the sheep would all scatter. And here, he prophesied how Jesus would ride into Jerusalem to being his conquering mission…

And oh, how God's people needed a Messiah to come to the rescue!

Few things deflate your spirit quicker than looking in your rearview mirror to see a cop or trooper flashing red and blue to signal you to pull over, especially when you know you're guilty of breaking a law. But nothing deflates your spirit quicker than looking in the rearview mirror of God's holy Law only to see the coming wrath of God.

God's people were back home in their promised land just like we heard Ezekiel prophesy would happen last week. But their city was in ruins. The temple was demolished. Their lives were in shambles. And when they looked over their shoulders, they knew that it was all because of their rebellion against God.

So how could they possibly rejoice?!

Because their King was coming. Of course, under the governor Zerubbabel they had no king. But this was a prophecy of the coming Messiah—the one who would rule over all nations! The one who would bring salvation from their sin—the very sin that brought them to ruins!


And this is made clear to us who see the fulfillment of verse 9 on Palm Sunday. In Jesus' day God's people looked at their situation, subject to Rome and Roman rules, paying taxes way higher than they could afford, suffering misery and frustration, and they looked to God's promises for hope. And they found the hope they were looking for in Jesus.

Here was one they thought would right the wrongs, rid them of the Romans, bring in perfect peace on earth and help them to rule the nations. But that's not the salvation Jesus would bring. Riding in to Jerusalem on a donkey demonstrated that. Oh, he was the Messiah, to be sure. That's why he came "and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey."

But he wasn't the type of Messiah they were looking for. He wouldn't ride in chariots. He wouldn't ride on war-horses. He would ride on a donkey—an animal of peace. He would take away the chariots and war-horses and destroy the weapons because his peace was not a physical, political, earthly peace. That's not the kind of salvation he would bring.

But, "See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation…" The King was not only righteous himself, but came bringing salvation, by giving his righteousness to his people. As the inspired apostle wrote in Romans 3: "This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." He came to bring them salvation from hell and peace with God. And so, even in the midst of the ruined city of Jerusalem, or even while subject to Roman rule, they could rejoice!

And so can we!


Friends, when you look back into the rear view mirror of life and see the consequences of your actions following you, when you see the wrath of God like the flashing red and blue lights chasing you, what kind of King do you look for? One who will save you from your problems or pain? One who will save you from trouble or hardship? Well, thank God you that you don't have that kind of King. You have one that wins the battle for you in a surprising way. He still doesn't mount war horses or chariots. He doesn't make you win the lotto every time. He doesn't end all opposition for you. And he doesn't take away your every pain.

But in a great battle, he made a sacrifice that looked like it spelled his defeat. Gentle and humble, he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey that he might ride to his death. Palm Sunday was Jesus death march. But he did it for you so he could take away your sin. On the cross, as he filled your shoes when the wrath of God poured out against every sin, he rescued you! He rescued you from hell!

And so, now, no matter what satan and your fellow sinners throw your way, no matter what mistakes you've made, no matter what problems you face, you can still rejoice! Because your sins are forgiven! Heaven is yours! "Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! …See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation!"


II.            Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!

Now Zechariah didn't just focus the people's attention on what the coming King would do for them, but he pointed out that his salvation would be for everyone! And he encouraged God's people to keep working to build up God's temple so they could be instrumental in letting the world know it.

Here he told them, "Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! …He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth."

You may or may not have had reason to rejoice lately, but when was the last time you were so excited about something that you shouted out loud? The picture Zechariah paints here is like that of one winning the lottery. If someone handed you a lottery ticket this afternoon and tomorrow you discovered that you were the winner of half a million dollars, would you rejoice quietly? Of course not! You'd shout about it, at least after you'd cashed it in!

Or maybe this one's more realistic: Imagine sitting in the stadium watching the Super Bowl surrounded by thousands of fans cheering for your team to win. (Okay, for some of you—Lions fans—it's maybe less realistic than winning the lottery, but just try to imagine it, okay?) Finally, after a grueling game, your team scores the tie-breaking touchdown with seconds left on the clock. They win the Superbowl! Would you rejoice quietly?

No, of course not! You'd jump up and shout! You'd holler to everyone around you! You'd maybe even call up your friends, whether they were cheering for your team or the opposing team, and start screaming into the phone. Your excitement would be too much to contain!

Zechariah told God's people that they didn't need to rejoice quietly, but they could shout! Tell the ends of the earth what God had promised! Their King would come! He would bring them salvation! He would take away their sin! He would bring them peace! And this wasn't just for a few, but for everyone! "To the nations!" "From sea to sea!" "To the ends of the earth!"


Dear friends, far more exciting than any Super Bowl, worth more than any lottery could ever offer, you have something better: You have a King who's brought you salvation with his righteousness! Your sins are forgiven! Heaven is yours! So no matter what this life has to offer, you have paradise to look forward to! And he brought it not just for you, but "To the nations!" "From sea to sea!" "To the ends of the earth!" Don't keep quiet about it, but shout! How could you possibly keep quiet about it?! It's the most exciting thing the world has ever seen!

And if you're an introvert, that's okay. You can shout about your King in other ways! By your offerings that support the mission of Grace and of our synod, you help others shout about the King! By forwarding an email of a sermon or a link to our Easter series page, you shout about what Jesus means to you! By taking a few business cards inviting someone to hear about the Easter message that we don't need to be afraid of anything and simply leaving a card at the table in the restaurant or at the gas pump, you're helping to shout about what our King means to us!

So, "Rejoice greatly," dear friends, because "your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation!" Then, "Shout," dear friends! "…Proclaim peace to the nations…" And do your part, small as it may seem, to extend his Kingdom "from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth," in Jesus' name, and by the peace that he's brought you. Amen.


In Him,
Pastor Rob Guenther

Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
47585 Ciechanski Road, Kenai, AK 99611

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

God Hurts Us to Heal Us (A sermon based on Hosea 5:15-6:3)

Why does God sometimes allow pain to come into our lives? How can a loving God even send pain into our lives? Sometimes God allows it to strengthen our faith or to help us witness to others. But sometimes God sends pain to into our lives as loving discipline, to draw us back to himself and his promises of grace. Read or listen to (download or stream) this sermon based on Hosea 5:15-6:3 and learn how God will sometimes hurt us in his love to heal us by his grace...

God Hurts Us to Heal Us

A sermon based on Hosea 5:15-6:3

Sunday, April 3, 2011 - Lent 4A


Last week Jesus answered the difficult question "Why does God allow bad things to happen?" He said, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened," namely, that a man was born blind, "so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." God allowed a man to be born blind not to punish him for a particular sin, but to give him opportunity to receive spiritual sight. This week we ask a similar question, "Why does God not only allow bad things happen, but even cause bad things to happen?" And again we see God sending pain and suffering for his glorious purposes. He sends his discipline in love…

The prophet Hosea prophesied during the tragic final days of the Northern Kingdom when they were about to be viciously destroyed by the Assyrian army from the north. But why would God allow, even cause, such suffering to come to his people? Here's why: God had warned his people again and again to worship him alone; to abandon their idols and put their trust in him. But again and again, they forsook God and cheated on him, turning to Baal worship, pagan sacrifice, "worshipping" with the sacred prostitutes, and even forming a golden calf in the capitol city of Samaria.

But they had ignored God long enough. He didn't want them to lose the promise of the Messiah as they had begun to do, so he would spank them. He would send an enemy nation from the north to bring them them misery, suffering and pain; to bring them to repentance; to bring them back to him and his promises of grace.

And at times, God does the same with us today. He sends suffering into our lives to bring us to repentance. He sends misery to bring us back to him. Sometimes God tears us apart in order to restore us. He hurts us in his love so he can heal us with his grace. Listen again to Hosea 5:15-6:3…


15 Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me." 6:1 "Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. 2 After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. 3 Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth."


I.              He Hurts Us in His Love (5:15-6:1)


God was vicious with his people. In the verse right before our text for this morning God describes himself as a lion who would tear them apart with no one to save them. By sending the brutal Assyrian army against them God tore his people apart and injured them, like a lion tearing apart his prey. The Assyrians tortured their captured enemies who resisted them. They would maim and impale and skin alive their enemies who dared to fight against them. Those who did surrender were chained, and with a hook in their nose were hauled away from their family and friends into captivity in a foreign land. The punishment was severe.

But it got even worse. More frightening than the violence of God's judgment was the abandonment that followed. If God's presence like a lion to tear them apart was frightening, his absence was terrifying. Like a lion retreating to the den leaving the carcass of his prey behind, God withdrew from his people. Like a hurt husband leaving the house and his unfaithful wife behind, God departed from his people. It couldn't get any worse than that.

But why would God cause so much suffering for his chosen people? For the nation that he said he loved? That doesn't seem like a very loving God to hurt his people in such a vicious way! And then to abandon them once he did! But God was practicing what parents today call "tough love."

The pain God sent was not without cause. God hurt them not in spite of his love, but because of his love. God abandoned his people to draw them back to him. He said, "15 Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me."

The end goal of the punishment God sent was to restore his people. He left them alone for a while so they might admit their guilt. In his love he added misery to their sinful rebellion to turn them from their sin. He wanted them to see that their real problem was not their enemies, but their sinful hearts. God was striving to break them; to bring them to their knees in repentance; to make them see that they were not better off without God; to make them say, "Come, let us return to the Lord."


Dear friends, does it ever seem like God is punishing you? Or worse yet, does it ever seem like God has left you? At those times it can seem like God doesn't care; that he wants to see you suffer. But God is just practicing tough love.

Maybe he is giving you opportunity to share your faith. Maybe he is giving you spiritual exercise, pushing you to the limit, throwing on bigger and heavier weights, so that your faith might grow stronger. Or maybe he's hurting to heal you; to lead you to repentance; to lead you back to him…

When a young woman's three year-old son was playing with his ball in the driveway, it bounced too high and got away from him and rolled into the street. Though his mother had warned him not to time and time again, he ran out into the street to get his ball. Mom saw the whole thing. And even though she didn't want to scold him and she didn't want to be the "bad guy," she loved her son too much not to punish him. She knew that if she didn't punish him today, tomorrow he could be hit by a car and killed. So she hurt her son to save him.

In the same way, the surgeon knew that the surgery wouldn't be easy. The tumor was on the spine in an area hard to reach. There were good odds that his patient would never walk again. But if the tumor weren't removed, there were better odds the patient would die. So he hurt the patient to heal him.

That's how it is with God. He doesn't enjoy punishing his children. He doesn't want to watch them suffer. But he knows that a little bit of suffering today might save you from an eternity of suffering tomorrow.

If you break a law, you may pay a fine or go to jail. If you damage a relationship you may lose someone you love. If you abandon God, he may send you illness, suffering, or pain. God gives us consequences for our sins to show us how serious they are and to lead us to repent. He would rather watch you hurt than lose you to hell.

Dear friends, don't ignore God's discipline. "Come, let us return to the Lord."  Let's return to the Lord, not by just going through the motions or in empty lip service, but in sincere repentance, recognizing that our real problem is not the pain we suffer, the financial woes, or the broken relationship, but the sin that's caused it. Let's admit our guilt and our disease of sin. Let's repent of our sin of a lack of zeal for hearing God's Word. Let's confess our sins of laziness, of self-centeredness, of loving ourselves and our comfort more than we love our God. Let's return to the Lord and let the Master Surgeon do his work. For when we do, he will heal us with his grace…


II.            He Heals Us with Grace (6:2,3)


As Hosea pleads with God's people to return to the Lord, he encourages them with God's motivating promises. He writes, "Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. 2 After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. 3 Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth."

Why should God's people repent? Because they could be confident with absolute certainty that God would heal them. Hosea leaves no room for doubt. He doesn't say, "If we go back to God and beg him, he might heal us." No! He says, "God will heal us." There is no uncertainty! Listen to the verbs he uses… he will heal us… he will bind up our wounds… he will revive us… he will restore us… he will appear… he will come to us like the winter and spring rains. Hosea was certain of God's restoration if the people would sincerely repent.

But in the middle of suffering, even confident of God's deliverance, one nagging question remains… "When, God? How long will it take?" Hosea offered assurance that if they would repent, God would restore his people quickly. "After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence." God would quickly revive and restore his people and bring them back into his presence. Of that they could be certain; as certain as the sun rises and the seasons change.


And we can be just as confident. We can be certain that when we sincerely repent of our sins God will come and heal us. We can be confident that he won't stay away for long…

Do you ever doubt that spring and summer will arrive? When the winter seems to drag on and the ice doesn't melt as quickly as it has this year, you may wonder when spring will arive, but you can be certain that it will eventually come. When you go to bed at night, do you ever doubt that the sun will rise in the morning? Do you ever think to yourself, "Well, it will probably be dark all day tomorrow because the sun won't come up." Maybe for you slopers when you're north of the Arctic Circle, but everywhere else, every day of every year since the sun has been created it has set in the evening and risen again the very next morning.

In the same way, when we confess our sins to God we can be certain he will give us the comfort and restoration that is found in the gospel. Why can we be so certain that he will bring healing and restoration? Because of Christ. In him we have perfect healing…

Instead of injuring us, God injured Christ. He was mocked and ridiculed, beaten with a staff, with a crown of thorns pressed deep into his head. Instead of tearing us to pieces, God tore up Christ. He was scourged with pieces of his flesh literally torn to pieces. He was nailed to a cross, tortured and crucified for us. Instead of abandoning us and leaving us, God abandoned Jesus on the cross as he suffered hell in our place to pay for our every sin. During this season of Lent, we look to that cross where God punished Christ in our place so we can  be certain that by his wounds we are healed (cf. Isaiah 53), that we are restored to God.

So brothers and sisters, when God hurts you, when he sends you misery and suffering and pain, return to the Lord. Sincerely repent of your sin. Seek his grace. And be confident that your suffering will end. Remember Easter Day; that after two days Christ was revived. On the third day his life was restored. And because he lives, we too will live. Press on to know God and remain faithful to him. Strive to be ready for his return, because as surely as the sun rises, he will return soon to take us to be forever healed in the glories of his heaven. In his name, dear friends, amen.

In Him,
Pastor Rob Guenther

Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
47585 Ciechanski Road, Kenai, AK 99611