Monday, November 28, 2011

Be Ready for When God Cleans Up (A sermon based on Genesis 6)

The test is on Tuesday. The boss asked for the presentation tomorrow. The wedding is only a few weeks away. Are you ready? We live with deadlines all the time. But one big deadline that's always looming on the horizon is that of Judgment Day. Though we have no idea when that deadline will come up, we're urged to be always ready for that day when God scrubs the world clean of all evil once and for all. Just as Noah prepared for the flood, not just by building the ark, but by putting his trust in the promises of God, so too, we are urged to be ready for Judgment Day by keeping our eyes on Jesus and God's gracious promises through him. Read or listen to (download or stream) this sermon based on Genesis 6, and get ready for when God cleans up...

Be Ready for When God Cleans Up

A sermon based on Genesis 6 (select verses)

Sunday, November 27, 2011 – Advent 1B


Do you have guests coming for Christmas? Have family joining you for dinner? Then it's time to clean up! Time to clean the house, wash the dishes, pick up, put away, and tidy up. Time to clean up before Christmas. This Advent season as we get ready for Christmas by cleaning our homes for guests and cleaning up ourselves for special holiday events, we see how God cleans up for Christmas too. He cleans away the wickedness and sin to make us ready for his Son's coming.

This morning we hear how God cleans up the earth, scrubbing it clean of all wickedness and sin. He scoured the earth once before by a universal flood, wiping the evil off the face of the earth. And he will scour the earth again at the end of the world when Christ comes again, destroying all evil and wickedness from the world once and for all.

And God tells us how he's going to clean up well in advance so we can get ready. This morning as we recall the account of the flood, we get ready for when God cleans up again. Listen now to Genesis 6, select verses…


When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the Lord said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years."

The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the Lord said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them." But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

This is the account of Noah.

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. 10 Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.

11 Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, "I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. 14 So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.

17 I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons' wives with you. 19 You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. 20 Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. 21 You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them."

22 Noah did everything just as God commanded him.


I.              God Will Clean Up the Mess


Why does evil exist? Ever had that challenging question fired in your direction? "If God loves everyone, and God is all powerful, then why does he permit evil? Why not stop it and put an end to all evil once and for all?"

Why does evil exist? Because God gave mankind freewill—the freedom to reject him, to serve ourselves, and to ruin his creation. And ever since Adam and Eve, fallen mankind has rejected God's will and chosen to serve self instead. It wasn't long after creation that, "The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time."

Earth was covered in the disgusting muck of sin. And it broke God's heart to see his perfect creation so filthy. And God was ready to clean up the evil and wipe up the mess. So the Lord said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth… for I am grieved that I have made them."

This week someone pointed out to me how Noah's ark is often depicted as cute and cuddly in pastel colors all over baby's room. But the flood was really an act of God's condemning judgment in his holy wrath. There wasn't anything cute or cuddly about it. (But it is still a good idea, by the way, not to paint people drowning on baby's wall.) But with a universal flood, with God's wrath poured out in his fury, the earth was scrubbed clean.

…But it didn't stay clean.

You see, Noah passed his sinful nature on his sons and they passed it on to theirs. And even after God scrubbed the earth clean by the flood every person born was still born dirty, filthy, covered in the muck of sin. How God described that sinful nature before the flood hasn't changed since: "Every inclination of the thoughts of [man's] heart was" [still] "only evil all the time."

And it remains that way today. Just look at the wickedness that surrounds us: The murder and rape, the child porn, the "adult" porn, the scandals and corruptions that we hear about every day. The world is still evil, just like it was before the flood.

And so once again God will don his rubber gloves so to speak and will scrub the earth clean. But sometimes when you try to scrub a stain clean water just won't cut it. You need something more powerful. The next time God cleans the earth of evil, he won't use water. He'll use fire.

He said through the apostle Peter (in 2 Peter 3:3-7): …you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come… They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." But they deliberately forget that long ago… the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

 "Why does evil exist? Why doesn't God put a stop to it and end all evil once and for all?" Oh, don't worry. He will. Just as God sent his judgment against the world by the flood, so he will most definitely judge the world again by fire. The question is will we be ready for that day when God scrubs the earth clean of evil a second and final time?

II.            God Has Cleaned Up Our Mess


You see, it's not just those evil people out there that are by nature objects of God's wrath. You and I received that sinful nature that Noah passed down through our parents. And you and I were born dirty, filthy, covered in the muck of sin. What God said of mankind in verse 5 was true of us by birth: "Every inclination of the thoughts of [my] heart was only evil all the time." We weren't just kind of evil, but every inclination was! We weren't just a little evil, but only evil, with nothing good in us! And we weren't only evil once in a while, but all the time!

"Why does God permit evil? Why not stop it and put an end to all evil once and for all?" I love the way the movie, Road to Emmaus, answered that question: Jesus turned to the disciple who asked that question and said, "Why doesn't God just wipe out all the evil people? …Then who would be left? Would you?" Evil exists because God is being patient. He's waiting for more evil people to come to faith and be clean. But eventually his patience will run out. He will scrub the earth clean of all evil.

God said through Peter, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

And even though the day is unknown, God doesn't want to surprise anyone by his judgment. The ark may have taken 80 years to build! And all that while Noah was preaching to those around him of God's coming judgment by the flood. But even though God gave people plenty of time to prepare for the flood, all but eight ignored the warning. And all but eight were swept away.

And God is warning us about his impending judgment by fire today! Jesus warned us not to be caught off guard by that day. He said iMatthew 24:36-39, 36 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man."

"Don't be like those people," Jesus warns, "who should have, but never did see it coming." So… are you ready?

Not all were caught off guard by the flood. Noah and his family were ready. And the day of the flood wasn't a day of judgment for them, but a day of salvation as they were rescued from the wicked and corrupt world around them. What made the difference? What made them ready?

Well, verse 8 says, "Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord." And verse 9 adds, "Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time…" Is that to say that Noah earned God's favor by how well he behaved? No, not really. You'll notice he wasn't blameless before God, but blameless among the people of his time. Before God, "Every inclination of the thoughts of [Noah's] heart [too] was only evil all the time."

No. Verse 9 explains how Noah could find favor in the eyes of the Lord and be considered righteous. It says, "and [Noah] walked with God." Hebrews 7:11 explains what that means: "By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith."

Noah had faith in the promise of the coming Messiah, a promise that Adam could have shared directly with Noah's father, Lamech, by the way (since Adam died only about 120 years before Noah's birth). He trusted that someday God would send one of Eve's offspring to crush Satan's head and make him righteous. And by faith in that promise, "Noah was a righteous man, blameless…" before God.

Make no mistake, God will scrub the earth clean of all evil again. Last time he did it with water. Next time he'll do it with fire. Are you ready?

In Christ, you are! By faith in the Messiah who came, you are clean! God has cleaned up your mess of sin and wickedness already! He has made you righteous and blameless in his sight! By the waters of baptism he has washed you clean of all your sin, just as Peter wrote in our Epistle lesson: "This [flood] water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ…"

We are ready through Christ, made clean through his death and resurrection. Now, may you daily remember your baptism and drown your sinful nature again and again. May you keep your trust in Christ and always stay ready.

Then we won't be caught off guard when God is ready to clean up once and for all. And Judgment Day won't be a day of terror for us, but a day of salvation as we are rescued from the wicked and corrupt world around us. And we'll stay clean forever in heaven. Are you ready for that day? In Jesus, the answer is, "Yes!" Amen!

In Him,
Pastor Rob Guenther

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

See the King of Kings… (A sermon based on Matthew 27:27-31)

Christ is the King of kings and Lord of lords. But he didn't always seem like he was in charge. When he was being mocked and abused and enduring so much suffering at the hands of the Roman soldiers who crucified him, he didn't seem very kingly. Yet, by their mock parody, they really declared the truth; that Jesus is the King. And ironically by his very suffering and death they were inflicting, Jesus conquered his enemies and won his kingdom. He won us. Read or listen to (download or stream) this sermon based on Matthew 27:27-31 and let Christ rule in your heart more and more...

See the King of Kings…

A sermon based on Matthew 27:27-31

Sunday, November 20, 2011 – Christ the King Sunday A


What comes to mind when I mention "The King"? Do you picture a man sitting on a throne wearing a crown? Or maybe you think of sequined suits, big sideburns, and blue suede shoes? Or maybe it's visions of Whoppers and French fries that fill your mind? Or maybe some of you noticed that this is Christ the King Sunday and you didn't even think of those other kings at all. Hopefully.

But what image of Christ do you get when you think of Christ the King? Do think of a man robed in white, shining as bright as the sun, sitting on a throne of gold, ready to judge the nations? Or do you picture a man dressed in colorful robes sitting at a banquet table, laughing in joy as he feasts with his friends? Or maybe you see a man in full armor riding out to meet the enemy in battle? How about this one… do you picture a man stripped of his clothes, severely beaten and bloodied beyond recognition, barely able to stand, taunted, ridiculed, and scorned?

Well, if that's a picture of a king, that's one very sorry king, isn't it? It's a weak, defeated king, right? No. It's not. It's actually a picture of a conquering king taking his throne…

Jesus didn't seem to be a very impressive king as he was mocked, tortured and killed. But his kingdom was and is not of this world—it's a spiritual kingdom. And by those very things that made him seem like he was weak, he defeated his enemies, took his throne and became the King above all kings, ruling the heavens and the earth, ruling in our hearts.

Today I invite you to see the King of Kings. See him suffer in humility and through it see him enter his kingdom. Listen again to the Gospel lesson for Christ the King Sunday recorded in Matthew 27:27-31…


27 Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. "Hail, king of the Jews!" they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.


I.              Suffer in Humility


Jesus was and is the King of all things. He demonstrated his power over  sickness when he cured every disease and over death when he brought people back to life. He showed his power to care for his subjects by miraculously providing food from a few fish and a few loaves of bread. And when he did the crowds tried to make him their king by physical force. On Palm Sunday they hailed him as their King as he rode into Jerusalem amid their songs of praise. But now, what a different picture we see.

Now Jesus is in custody with a company of soldiers surrounding him. He had just been scourged, whipped with those leather straps embedded with shards of metal or glass. He was hurting, bloodied, in extreme pain, all in a desperate attempt by Pilate to save Jesus' life by moving the crowd to sympathy (for it was obvious to Pilate that Jesus was innocent). But the physical abuse and pain wasn't enough. Pilate would do a very thorough job. With Pilate's full consent, the soldiers made a mockery of him. And the King of the universe wasn't treated with much nobility.

While Jesus, the one who simply spoke and caused the soldiers to fall to the ground, the one who had the power to end their lives in an instant if he would so choose, the one who created the very universe, should be treated with the utmost awe and respect, while he should be bowed to and worshiped, they didn't recognize that he was a king. Instead they mocked him with a gruesome parody, this "King of the Jews."

They took an old faded cloak and threw it on Jesus to mimic the rich purple robes of royalty. They fashioned a mock crown out of a thorn bush and pushed it on his head. They laughed at how weak this king was that anyone could hit him in the head with his own "scepter" after they pulled it from his hands. They pretended to give him honor by kneeling and saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and they replaced the kissing him in homage with spitting in his face.

But even when they were done with their fun, even this degradation was not enough to inspire sympathy in the Jews and Pilate finally gave in. Jesus was led out to Mount Calvary and was tortured to death with a sign overhead reading, "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews."

Pretty inhumane treatment right? Even for a convict, let alone the King of the universe! But before we're too quick to judge the vicious soldiers or the cowardly Pilate, let's take a look at our own lives.

Jesus is still the King of all things. He still has power over sickness and death. He still has power to provide for our every need even. And while we do often hail him as our King that's not always how we treat him, is it? We at times still treat him as the soldiers did.

"Now, wait a second," you say, "I've never denied Jesus authority like that. I've never hit him with a staff, never forced a crown of thorns on his head! I've never mocked or taunted him like those soldiers. I wouldn't dream of spitting in Jesus' face or forcing him to the cross." Yet, dear friends, that's exactly what we do.

When we choose to serve ourselves instead of our Savior, we deny his authority and reject his kingship over us. Look at the evidence, how many hours per week do you spend with Jesus in Bible study and how many watching TV? How many dollars do you put in the offering plate each month and how much you spend eating out?

And it's worse than our bad priorities, mistreating our king by negligence. When you talk down a co-worker, you hit Jesus, for "whatever you do to the least of these," he says, "you do to me." When you use your lips to curse others, when you fail to speak up and defend someone, you spit in Jesus face. It was our sins, yours and mine, that nailed Jesus to the cross when we rebelled and dethroned him putting ourselves in his place.

I hurt Jesus. I mock him. I taunt him. I push that crown into his head and hit him with his own staff. I spit in his face and show my utter contempt with each and every sin. And I am ashamed at how I've treated my King. And for the way I've treated him, I deserve to be humiliated like he was. I deserve to be shamed. I deserve to spit on, to be scourged, to suffer the hell that he endured, to die forever.

But dear friends, I won't get what I deserve. Because it is for my sin that he endure it all. For by this abuse, Jesus conquered his enemies and mine, he entered into his kingdom, and brought me into the same…


II.            Enter Into His Kingdom


As the soldiers laughed at their parody of this "king," as they made sport of him, giving him all symbols of royalty, they really made a true statement. When Pilate ordered that the sign above Jesus' head read, "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" he too made a true statement, unawares. Though he didn't seem to be, Jesus was and is a true king. When Pilate asked him flat out, "Are you the king of the Jews?" Jesus said, "Yes, it is as you say." (Matthew 27:11) The truth is that Jesus was and is the King of the Jews, and not just of the Jews, but of the Gentiles, of every nation. He is the Lord Most High, the great King over all the earth. He is King of kings and Lord of lords to whom is due all honor and glory.

But his kingdom is not of this world as Pilate and his soldiers thought. It's a spiritual kingdom. And he didn't win his kingdom by force, but by sacrifice. Though he could have easily silenced those who mocked him and though he could have easily destroyed those who hurt him, all without lifting a finger or saying a word, yet, in order to win his kingdom, he willingly endured this abuse. He silently suffered this unjust treatment. He voluntarily experienced hell on the cross and in so doing defeated his and our spiritual enemies, sin, death, Satan. He conquered them all and his rule began.

This is exactly what Isaiah prophesied would happen in Isaiah 53. Go home and reread that chapter to see how the Christ would win a portion among the great because he poured out his life unto death. And that's exactly what happened. And he did it all for us. "He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5) He endured such humiliation and shame so I won't be humiliated or put to shame before God. He was hurt by sinful men, so I won't be hurt by a righteous God. He was unjustly condemned that I might be unjustly pardoned.

He was humiliated, hurt and abused to take away every time I've abused Jesus, every time I've spit in his face, and every time I've tried to remove him and put myself in Jesus' throne by my sinful selfish actions. Now, with every sin removed, he makes me perfectly righteous and fit to be in his kingdom.

And in that sacrifice, he won his kingdom, that is, he won us. That kingdom of Jesus' exists in us. He rules in our hearts today. He made you a member of his kingdom at your baptism, when he took your stony heart and softened it, and created the very faith that trusts in him. He continues to rule in your heart today as he moves you to thank him in every act of service and love you do for him. We are members of his kingdom.

In medieval times, if you were a vassal to a good king, what a joy it was. He would protect you from your enemies so you could live in peace, even taking you in to his keep when the enemies attacked. He would ride out to meet them and drive them away. He would provide for your needs when you were unable, giving you food, drink and shelter. All this he did if you would work hard for him in his fields.

In a similar way, we enjoy great blessings by being members of Jesus' kingdom! We enjoy a real peace since he rode out to meet the enemy and defeated Satan and removed all our sins. He gives us perfect protection from every enemy that might harm us. He provides for our every need when we're unable—giving us the robes of righteousness we could never get ourselves, by wearing the scarlet robe of shame, giving us the crown of victory because he wore the crown of thorns. But while a medieval king would demand that you work in the fields to earn his protection and care, Christ gives us all this without asking for a thing in return, as a good and perfect gift.

And not only does Christ rule in the hearts of believers, but he rules all things for our eternal good. "The kings of the earth belong to him" (Psalm 47:9) and he arranges all the events of our lives to be a blessing to us. He not only protects us from our spiritual enemies, but from physical harm only allowing it to serve our greater spiritual good. He showers us with countless physical blessings and makes it a joy to serve every day of our lives.

And finally, he's not just the King of believers, but of all people. One day very soon even unbelievers will have to acknowledge the fact that Jesus is the Son of God, the King of all the earth. As Paul points out, because "He humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:8-11)

Though the kingship of Jesus' first coming was marked by humiliation, it won't be that way at his return. In Matthew 25:31 he describes what that return will be like, "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory." He will be an exalted King, seated on his throne, no longer the one who is judged, but the one who dispense his perfect judgment, ends all wickedness and takes us to the festive celebration of heaven to live in his palace with him for all of eternity.

Dear friends in Christ, see the King of kings and rejoice that you're a part of his kingdom! Don't reject him as your king and don't just pretend to pay him homage, but treat him with the respect and honor he deserves. Treat him as your Savior King! Willingly submit to his authority to thank him for his protecting care. Honor him. Worship him. And give to him your unending thanks and praise as you serve him with your wealth, your talents, your very lives. And to him who sits on the throne, to the Lamb, be praise and thanks and honor and glory for ever and ever! Amen!

In Him,
Pastor Rob Guenther

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I Know of a Sleep in Jesus' Name (A sermon based on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Are you afraid of going to sleep at night? Worried that you won't wake up in the morning? Or are you eager to go to sleep and get the rest your body and mind need? Today we hear God, through Paul, comfort the Thessalonians and us with the comforting truth that death is not something to be feared or dreaded, but only going to sleep. For we will wake up from the dead and will be reunited with those believers who have gone before us and with Jesus. So death is only a peaceful, restful sleep. Read or listen to (download or stream) this sermon based on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and be comforted by the sure hope of the resurrection...

I Know of a Sleep in Jesus' Name
A sermon based on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Sunday, November 1
3, 2011 - Saints Triumphant B


One of the longest days of my life began as a day of recreation. A couple of friends and I got up while it was still dark and drove several hours to the start of a trail. We then spent the better part of the day hiking into the Cascade mountains in Washington state. But as evening approached, maybe 10 miles in, the rain started falling (as it's apt to do in that part of the country). We only had 2 or 3 miles to go until we came to the place where we intended to camp for the night, but the rain soon became a downpour. And as we continued on the hike, now fairly soaked, we came to a spot where the trail had washed out. There was a cliff wall on the left, a sheer drop on the right, and a big mudslide down the mountain in front of us. There was no way around and no place to camp around there so there was no other choice but to turn around. We backtracked a mile or so until we found a place that was fairly flat and just big enough for a tent and campfire under the trees.

We tried to start a fire to warm up and dry off, but the rain was relentless and there was no dry fuel to be found. So we pitched the tent and huddled inside determined to make the best of a miserable situation. But before long we realized the tent had a leak and the level ground we'd found was the perfect place for the water to pool as it ran down the side of the mountain. But now we were stuck. It was dark and unsafe to hike even if we had the energy to break camp and plod on. So there we spent a sleepless night, our sleeping bags and us inside them soaked through. It was also a surprisingly chilly night for early June. I don't think any of us slept a wink.

The next morning, when dawn finally arrived, the rain still hadn't let up. So we broke camp and hiked the absolutely miserable 10 or 12 miles back to the car while the torrents of rain continued to drench us, hoping that the trail between us and the car hadn't washed out too. When we finally got back to the car, we cranked the heater to try to dry out and drove several hours back home.

And when I finally got home, took a hot shower and climbed into bed that night, I don't think I've ever slept better. Physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, I crashed and I crashed hard. What welcome that sweet, soothing, reviving sleep was. Safe and comfortable at last!

This morning, the apostle Paul describes for us another sleep that is sweet, soothing, and reviving for every believer in Jesus. The sleep of death is not terrifying for the believer, but safe and comfortable at last! For death is not the end, but only a sleep from which we will awake... to a glorious reunion with those saints who have gone before us, and better still, with Jesus himself.

Listen to the way the apostle describes that blessed sleep through Jesus in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18...


13Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18Therefore encourage each other with these words.

I. We Will Awake...

Paul wasn't just using a euphemism when he called those who had died, "those who had fallen asleep." He was talking reality. You see, someone had led the Thessalonians to believe that all believers would stay alive until Christ came back to earth again. And so, when their loved ones died, they wondered what happened to them. Were they forever lost? Were they in hell? Was there any hope for their immortal souls? So Paul set pen to paper to clear up some of the confusion they had.

"Brothers," he said, " we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep..." You see, what you don't know can hurt you. If you don't know the bridge is out up ahead, you could be in mortal danger. If you don't know you're sick, you can't get the help you need. And if you don't know what happens when you die... well, that ignorance has eternal consequences. It may seem like Paul is a bit harsh when he calls them "ignorant," but that's how they were acting. They were grieving like men who have no hope as if death were the final word.

And to be sure, that's what they deserved. Roman poet, Gaius Valerius Catulus, once wrote, "When once our brief day has set, we must sleep one everlasting night." And many would agree that at death we simply become worm food and face annihilation. But that's only wishful thinking. The reality is that without hope in Christ, death brings far worse than annihilation. It brings an eternal punishment in an unquenchable lake of fire, where, as Jesus put it, "[the] worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched." (Mark 9:48)

And to be sure, that's what we deserve. We may not be ignorant about what happens at death, but all too often we sure act like it...

Did you notice who Paul said would be caught up with the Lord? He didn't say "Those who are still alive," but "We who are still alive..." You see Paul wanted the Thessalonians and every generation of believers to live with the continued expectation that Jesus would return in their lifetime. But have you lived that way? Always ready to go? Always eager to share the gospel with another as if today were your very last chance to do so? Always with the eager hope and expectation that today will be the day that you fall asleep to be with the Lord? Have your actions indicated that you live with that certain hope? Have your thoughts about others? Your attitudes toward the possessions and the wealth that God has given you on loan for a while? Mine either. And we deserve to die forever in hell, never to be awakened from that endless nightmare.
But we don't get what we deserve. Death is not the end. It's only a sleep. How come? Paul explains, "We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him." Jesus didn't just fall asleep
. He died. He was cut off from God the Father and endured hell itself to pay for the sins of all mankind. And he was cut off from the land of the living to complete the sacrifice.

Now, those who trust in Jesus' work on their behalf, will not die forever in hell, but will live. They—we—will wake up from death! And because Jesus rose again, we know that his payment is complete and acceptable to God, and therefore, that we too will rise from the dead! Just as we don't dread going to sleep at night, but rather welcome the rest and relief and peace from the worries of the day that sleep brings, so too, we can honestly look forward to death. For it will bring eternal rest, relief from our sinful natures that always haunt us here, and peace from all the problems and pain that this life brings. In fact, the word cemetery comes from the Greek word meaning "a sleeping place." After all, that's what death is for a Christian. Not the final answer, but a restful sleep from which we will awake. And so, we can—and we do—look forward to that sleep...

II. ...To a Happy Reunion

I know that some of you of here have lost loved ones to death. Parents, spouses, and children, some of which were never born, have been victims of that unnatural result of sin. And we grieve our loss. And that's okay. Jesus himself cried tears of sorrow at the loss of his good friend, Lazarus—even though he knew he'd see him alive again in matter of minutes! It is okay to grieve. But we don't "grieve like the rest of men," (like unbelievers), "who have no hope." We do have hope.

And you know that the Biblical concept of "hope" is not like our English word for hope, like, "I hope it doesn't snow tomorrow because I don't want to shovel anymore," or "I hope I can find a job soon—one that pays well" or "I hope that I can make it home for Thanksgiving." No. We have the certain expectation of our resurrection, and of a happy reunion with that resurrection.

Paul says, "the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds..." We will be reunited with the Saints Triumphant—those who have gone before us and died trusting in Jesus' forgiveness won for them on the cross. But our reunion in heaven will be even greater still! For we'll be reunited, not just with our loved ones, but even better with Jesus! Paul says, "the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever."

And what a great day that will be! In the words of the Christian band, Mercy Me... "I can only imagine what it will be like when I walk by [Jesus'] side... I can only imagine what my eyes will see when [his] face Is before me... Surrounded by [his glory, what will my heart feel? Will I dance for... Jesus or in honor of him be still? Will I stand in [his] presence or to my knees will I fall? Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all? I can only imagine..." What an awesome day that will be!

But what about now? What do we do until that great and awesome day? Paul tells us that too. "Therefore," he saysthat is, because of our hope; our certain expectation that when we fall asleep in death, we will wake up again to be reunited with the Saints Triumphant and with our Savior—"Therefore encourage each other with these words." Encourage one another. You are not a Christian that's isolated in a bubble. You're a part of a family, part of a body. So encourage one another. Share the comforting truth of the certain resurrection we look forward to with one another. Share the message with those who don't have any hope.

Remind each other that death is just like falling asleep. And when this life leaves us physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, we know we can look forward to that sweet, soothing, reviving sleep. Safe and comfortable at last, we'll wake up free of every burden, worry, sorrow, and pain. "We will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words." Amen.

In Him,
Pastor Rob Guenther

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

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Be Glad You’re a Sheep! (A sermon based on Matthew 25:31-46)

You are such a sheep! And thank God that you are! Though you were once a goat, fit for destruction in hell, God in his grace has made you one of the sheep of his flock. By faith in Christ and his work on the cross and by the resurrection, you are secure in his flock, one of his own sheep, and destines for heaven. So Judgment Day is not a frightening thought for us, but an exciting one, as we look forward to being with our Good Shepherd in heaven! And now, we can act like the sheep God has made us in this life already, as we strive to thank him. Read or listen to (download or stream) this sermon based on Matthew 25:31-46 and rejoice! Be glad you're a sheep!

Be Glad You're a Sheep!

A sermon based on Matthew 25:31-46

Sunday, November 6, 2011– Last Judgment Sunday A


"You're such a sheep," isn't usually a compliment, is it? If you follow what others are doing blindly, just going along with the crowd, you're just a sheep. If you let others take advantage of you, you're fleeced like a sheep. And even the Bible doesn't always speak of sheep in the most kindly ways. "We all like sheep have gone astray." Sheep wander off and get lost and can't find their way back. Sheep are dumb animals—literally in the Greek, "forward moving things." So, I'm guessing you might not take it as a compliment when someone calls you a sheep.

But, the truth is you are a sheep.

But this morning I mean that differently. In this morning's text it's not an insult to be called a sheep. Instead it's a wonderful truth in which you can rejoice. You are a sheep! Though you once were a goat, you've been made a sheep. And in that truth we can be glad and we can live like sheep. Listen to Jesus' words describing the sheep and the goats on Judgment Day…


31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' 37 "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' 40 "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' 41 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not

look after me.' 44 "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' 45 "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' 46 "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

          I.              You Were A Goat 

Many may wish to deny it, but the truth is that Judgment Day is coming—that day on which all people who ever lived will be judged for all eternity. One of our creeds describes that day: "At his coming all people will rise with their own bodies to answer for their own personal deeds. Those who have done good will enter eternal life, but those who have done evil will go into eternal fire." (The Athanasian Creed)

But does that make you a bit nervous? I mean Jesus called the ones on his right who are blessed by the Father and welcomed into heaven the righteous. The righteous ones who have done good will enter eternal life. But is that you?

Have you always fed the hungry? When was the last time you went down to the local shelter? How much of your income has gone to help the hungry? Have you always been hospitable inviting strangers in? Or do you sometimes double bolt the door, chain it shut, and set the alarm to keep everyone else out of your private sanctuary? Have you clothed the needy? Well, does taking my worn out and outsized stuff that I was tossing anyway over to Goodwill instead of the trash can count as clothing the needy? Have you been eager to care for the sick? Or do you keep your distance just in case they're contagious? Have you visited prisoners? Or are you glad that the scum of the earth are kept out of way where they can't hurt you or inconvenience you?

The truth is, we're far from righteous in our own homes. We don't even show this kind of love to our own family and friends all the time, let alone strangers. We should be viewing everyone that we meet as Jesus in disguise—and in turn be eager to love and serve them. But we don't. We view them as annoyances, as inconveniences, as burdens. And so too often we're uncaring, heartless, cold, and sometimes downright mean toward others. And we forget that what we do to others or don't do for them, we do to Jesus or don't do for him.

And for being anything but righteous, we deserve to have Jesus tell us, "Get away from me!" We deserve to be cursed. We deserve to be cast out of God's presence and into the eternal fires of hell. 

But did you notice who hell was prepared for? It was prepared for satan and his angels, not for people. God doesn't want people in hell. In fact, he doesn't want that so much that he acted. And because he acted we won't get the hell we deserve, because we're not goats anymore, but sheep…

II.            You Are A Sheep 

Pay close attention to the timing of the events on Judgment Day. They're important. Which came first, the evidence? Or the verdict? It was the verdict, right? Before there was any mention of any works, the people were separated. Then, after they were separated, the perfect Judge who knows all things displayed the evidence to make it clear to all that his judgment is right. But the judgment was not based on what people did, but on who they were—either sheep or goat, the righteous or wicked, the blessed or the cursed—then the works were displayed—whether good or evil---to demonstrate the presence or absence of faith.

So which are we? Sheep or goats?

We already saw that on our own we are wicked goats. But how do we become sheep? A dog can't turn into a cat, no matter how hard you try to pull it off, and a goat can't turn into a sheep either, right? It's impossible! Humanly speaking it is impossible for the wicked to become righteous. But all things are possible with God. He turns us into sheep.

How? Through the Good Shepherd. Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd… and I lay down my life for the sheep." (John 10:14-15) And though "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, [and] each of us has turned to his own way… the Lord has laid on him [on Jesus] the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53:6) By taking all our evil deeds on himself and by crediting all his good deeds to us, he has changed us from goats into sheep—from sinful, godless heathen, into sinless, perfect saints.

Now when God looks at you and me and evaluates our personal deeds, all he sees is the good that Jesus did and sees none of the evil we've done. Now you and I are ready for the Last Judgment. Judgment day isn't terrifying to us, but exciting, because we know we'll be on the right. And we're ready to be separated from the world around us. We're ready to receive the inheritance that awaits us! We're ready to enter the kingdom that God has prepared—for us!—since the creation of the world! We're ready because by Jesus work, and through faith in him, we're sheep and not goats! And while we wait for that Last Judgment to come, we can start acting like sheep right now…

III.           Act Like A Sheep 

It's usually not a complement to be compared with an animal. "Were you born in a barn?" "You eat like a pig!" "You're moving like a snail!" But it is a wonderful thing to be a sheep when you're in Jesus' flock. And in that light, what a compliment to hear someone say, "You're acting like a sheep."!

Act like the sheep that God has made you, dear flock! Just as a sheep knows the voice of its shepherd, so too, know your Good Shepherd's voice! Listen to his voice in the Word, in public and private worship, in your daily devotions. Just as a sheep trusts its shepherd to provide good grass to eat and clean water to drink, trust your Good Shepherd to nourish you with the food and drink of his Body and Blood and to quench your thirsty soul with the living waters of the Word. Just as a sheep follows its shepherd wherever it may go, follow your Good Shepherd, dear sheep. Follow him to the cross. Then follow his example of selfless service to others.

Give some of the blessings that God has showered on you to those who are in need with fewer blessings of their own. Give of your time and give up some comfort and convenience in order to comfort and care for the sick and imprisoned, the lonely and the hurting. Do these things for everyone you encounter who have these needs, but especially for believers—for "the least of these brothers of [Jesus]."

Look for opportunities where you can give your time, your energy, your gifts to those who need them more than you. You can start by looking in your home. Look for ways of serving your family and be a sheep for them. Then look at work. What are the needs of your co-workers? How can you meet them? How about here among the family of believers? How can you be sheep-like to a fellow sheep? What love can you show? What encouragement can give? Finally, look at the goats. How can you meet their needs and introduce them to the Good Shepherd?

And you can give to those in need and care for them and comfort them not in fear of Judgment as if God said, "You'd better toe the line or there's hell to pay!" because you already have a favorable judgment in your Good Shepherd. The verdict has already been declared: You're not guilty! You're not a goat! You're a sheep!

Instead, we act selflessly in thanks to the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep. We act in love for others to show our unending gratitude to him who loved us! We act like sheep, following the one who made us his sheep, who gave us his inheritance, who gave us the kingdom. Rejoice, dear friends, "You are such sheep!" Amen.

In Him,
Pastor Rob Guenther

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

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

God, Keep Us Faithful (A sermon based on Daniel 6:10-12, 16-23)

At times our faith will be put to the test by fierce opposition and persecution. What will we do when such times come? Strengthened by God's Word and his promises of grace, we will stand firm, remain faithful and make a bold witness for the truth come what may -- just like the prophet, Daniel, did and just like the reformer, Martin Luther, did. And when we do, more will come to faith through our faithful witness, just like they did through Daniel's and Luther's. Read or listen to (download or stream) this sermon based on Daniel 6 and be encouraged that God will keep you faithful...

God, Keep Us Faithful
A sermon based on Daniel 6:10-12, 16-23
Reformation Sunday – October 30, 2011 

           I can only imagine the fear that filled his heart as he stood before the throne. He knew that what he had said and done was punishable by death. And he knew that the even if the head of the government was sympathetic, the real leaders of the people, were not. Death was a probable outcome.

            But what could he do? It was either risk death or deny the truth. And to deny the truth was to deny God. So rather than succumb to the threats levied against him he would take his stand. Boldly, standing on the Word of God, he would not back down. And he would suffer for it.

            So we find the prophet Daniel at eighty years of age refusing to stop praying to the true God, refusing to pray to the king of Babylon, willing to die for his decision—and thrown into a den of hungry lions. 

Daniel was a prophet who lived in a time of trouble and turmoil for Israel. God had sent his prophets to Israel again and again to warn them to repent, to turn from their wicked ways and return to God. But they refused. So God sent a foreign nation, the Babylonians, to discipline them and make them reconsider.

Starting in about 605 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar led the Babylonians in a series of attacks against the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Three times they carried off the Israelites as prisoners of war, as exiles, into Babylon (that is, modern Iraq). And young Daniel, a teenager at the time, was one of the first to go.

            The captives' life was rough, but not unbearable. They were allowed a certain amount of freedom. Some were even allowed to serve in the government. And Daniel quickly entered the king's service when he noticed how God had blessed him physically and intellectually. And Daniel served under several kings, continuing to serve even the Mede and Persian kings who conquered the Babylonians. This is where we find him this evening.

Now 80 years old he had been in exile for more than six decades, serving as a leader in a foreign land. But as a foreigner, a captive Israelite, there was certainly some jealousy from the Mede and Persian leaders under him. They desired his position of power. They longed to remove him from his position. So they plotted against him. Not unlike politicians of today, they tried to dig up some dirt from his past; something, anything, with which they could accuse him of misconduct in office. But, because Daniel was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent, they found nothing. They had to trap him into breaking the law. They said, "We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God."

So here's their plan: "We know Daniel's habits. He prays to his God every day at set times. Let's use our king's vanity to get him to pass a law forbidding prayer. Daniel will surely keep praying. Then we've got him!" They said, "O King Darius, live forever! 7 The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or man during the next thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into the lions' den. 8 Now, O king, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed." And King Darius bit. He put the decree in writing.

The trap was set. Now all they had to do was wait. What was Daniel to do? He knew that he was the target of this edict, even if the king didn't see it. And if he took a stand and disobeyed the king's edict, he could be thrown into a den of hungry lions and eaten alive! What a horrible way to go!

How tempting it must have been for him to stop praying for just thirty days. Or maybe to keep praying, but to do it in another room or at a different time of day when everyone else was asleep. Maybe he could just pray silently to God. God would hear him. God would understand.

But Daniel knew that any of these options would dishonor God as he tried to hide his faith to save his life. That was the worst that could happen to him, not the lions. If he went to the lions he might die—a horrible, grisly death. But then he would go to heave! The victory would be his. But, on the other hand, if he denied his faith in God he would be compromising that faith and the results might last for eternity. The real danger was not the lions, but the temptation to deny God.

10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.

11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. 12 So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: "Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or man except to you, O king, would be thrown into the lions' den?" The king answered, "The decree stands—in accordance with the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed."

13 Then they said to the king, "Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day."

14 When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him. 15 Then the men went as a group to the king and said to him, "Remember, O king, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed." 16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions' den. The king said to Daniel, "May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!" 17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel's situation might not be changed.

What courage! What strength of faith! To ignore the plot! To deny the king! In the face of persecution Daniel didn't hide his faith or cower in an inner room, but boldly took his stand—even if it meant a horrible death!


In a similar way, about two thousand years later, a monk by the name of Martin Luther, had a plot out on his life. He didn't face a den of hungry lions, but instead risked being burned alive once he was labeled a heretic for going against the religious teaching of the Roman Catholic church. How tempting it must have been to back down, to take back some of what he said, to recant.

But he, like Daniel, couldn't hide his faith. Too much was at stake! At a time when the truth of the Gospel was all but lost, he had to proclaim the truth! He could not cower, but would continue to boldly preach and teach, proclaim and write the truth about the Gospel! That we are saved by God's grace alone, not by our merits in any way! We are saved through faith alone and not by our works or deeds! So he took his stand and was branded a heretic so that any who found him could legally take his life.


What about us? Do we ever face opposition in our lives? I'm willing to bet that no one here has ever been thrown into a den of hungry lions for daring to pray to God. I'll no one here is a wanted criminals for sharing the gospel. Yet, we do face opposition of our own in other forms. We face ridicule and insults, considered intellectually inferior because we dare to believe that Jesus rose from the dead, that he is who he said he was, that he accomplished our salvation. We face lions of our own, don't we? Peter reminded the early church, "Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith."

But in the middle of the lions' den, it can be hard to stay faithful, can't it? And too often we cower. We stand down because we love ourselves more than we love our God. But thank God, then, that he sent his Son to fight against that roaring lion, to conquer the devil by being devoured by God's wrath in our place on the cross. Thank God that he did raise Jesus from the dead for our justification, so that now, by God's grace alone, through faith alone, we are rescued—from satan, from our own sin, from death, and from eternal death in hell. Through Christ alone, the victory is ours!

And now, for the way he took a stand for us, we are moved to want to take a stand for him. So how do we stand tall in those times when extra courage is called for? How do we stay faithful to our God like Daniel, like Luther? In short, we don't. Not on our own. It's God who keeps us faithful, just as he kept Daniel and Luther faithful to him… through his Word.

How did God keep Daniel faithful? Well, at the time of the Babylonian captivity, the children of Israel had the books of the Bible from Genesis thru Jeremiah and a few of the other prophets. In Daniel chapter 9 he wrote, "I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years." He knew God's promises. And so he prayed to God holding him to those promises. In chapter 9 he went on…

"The curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you…  We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy." And he held God to the promise he read in those Scriptures.

Daniel even alluded to some of the things King Solomon prayed at the dedication of the temple in his prayer in chapter 9: "When they sin against you and you give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to a land far away, if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and pray toward the temple, then forgive your people, who have sinned against you." Daniel relied on the Scriptures and the promises they contained. He studied them. He knew them well. He drew his strength from the mercy of God that he found promised in them and in them he found courage to be faithful in the face of fierce opposition and in the den of the lions. 

In the same way, Martin Luther found his strength in God's written word. Assigned to teach the Bible at the University of Wittenberg, he found the gospel. He discovered the truth that we are saved by God's grace and mercy, not by anything we might do. Like Daniel, he relied on the Scriptures and the promises they contained. He studied them. He knew them well. He drew his strength from the mercy of God that he found promised in them and in them he found courage to be faithful in the face of fierce opposition and in his trial before the emperor.


And friends, you know that we find our strength in the same place. We trust the Scriptures as the divinely inspired Word of God; that Word which tells us that we are sinful. Like Daniel we fall to our knees in repentance. And like Luther we cling to that Word which tells us by God's grace alone, through faith, and not by works, but as a gift from God we are made righteous through Christ's innocent death. We cling to that Word which reminds us that Christ will keep us faithful, even in the lion's den, even before emperors and kings. 

And as we do, God will work through our faithful witness just like he did through Daniel's and Luther's.

18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep. 19 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions' den. 20 When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, "Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?" 21 Daniel answered, "O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king." 23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

Through Daniel's persecution, King Darius now knew without a doubt who the true God was. In Daniel 6:25-27 we read: 25 Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language throughout the land: "May you prosper greatly! 26 "I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. "For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. 27 He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions."

In fact, Daniel wrote the account down so that we're still learning from it today, some twenty-six hundred years later, and through these events, God is keeping us faithful!


Likewise, God kept Martin Luther faithful so he could reform the church, restore the gospel to the people and put into writing most of his works to benefit future generations after him.


Why does God keep us keep us faithful? Why not just whisk us out of this life the moment we come to faith and spare us from any opposition and remove any chance that we might fall away? Well, he keeps us faithful in times of fierce opposition, through his Word, in order that we might share that Word with others. We can share with others that God in his grace and mercy has forgiven all our sins through Christ. Think of someone that you can share that message with this week. Let's celebrate this Reformation Day by telling others what God has done for them. And God will keep us faithful though his Word. Amen!


Now may our Gracious God continue to keep you faithful in every way until life's end. Amen. 

In Him,
Pastor Rob Guenther

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