Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Pretty Ugly (A sermon based on Isaiah 52:14; 53:2-3)

Feel ugly sometimes? Truth is, our sins are hideous to a holy God. But thank God for Jesus! He became pretty ugly, so tortured, battered, and beaten that he didn't even look human! Thank God that Jesus became so ugly that we might be forgiven of our hideous sin. Now we all look incredibly handsome, incredibly beautiful to God. Now we want to see others as God sees them and treat them accordingly. Read or listen to (download or stream) this sermon based on Isaiah 52:14 and 53:2-3 (or watch video of the entire service here: www.GraceLutheranKenai.com/webcast) and rejoice how good looking you are!

Our Suffering Savior

Pretty Ugly

A sermon based on Isaiah 52:14; 53:2-3

Sunday, March 16, 2014 – Lent 2A 

He was so ugly, he entered an ugly contest and was disqualified. They said no professionals were allowed. He was so ugly, he made even the blind kids cry. He was so ugly, his mom used to feed him with a slingshot.

Let’s face it: all of us have seen people whom we have regarded as unattractive, ugly even, more beast than beauty. Maybe you’ve even been critical of someone who’s overweight, is messy or dirty, or just doesn’t have their look together.

Maybe you’ve judged a book by its cover before and based on the clothes, too baggy or too tight, based on the jewelry, with piercings where you think are inappropriate, or based on the ink, with too many tattoos in all too visible of places. Maybe you’ve made a snap judgment about someone based solely on their appearance.

What a huge mistake that would be to judge Jesus by the way that he looked. He didn’t look very pretty. Not as a man, and certainly not on the cross. But in spite of the fact that Jesus wasn’t much to look at, even though he looked pretty ugly, hanging on the cross, we know why he suffered the way he did. He did it to make us, who were so ugly in our sin, to look beautiful to God. Our text for this morning is Isaiah 52:14 and 53:2-3… 

52:14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him—his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness…

53:2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 

I.      Pretty On the Outside; Ugly on the Inside 

What do you think makes someone ugly? Uneven eyes, misshaped teeth, abnormally large features? No hair? (For the record, I have wavy hair. It’s just that it’s waving goodbye.) Maybe you feel that ugliness has less to do with someone’s God-given features than what you do with what God gave you. Ugliness then would be sloppy, a lack of grooming, or a lack of general physical health. “If only they’d put in a little effort,” some might think, “If only they’d get a makeover, if only they’d shed a few pounds, then they could be so much better looking.”

But how you or I define ugly isn’t nearly as important as how God defines ugly. Here’s what he says: “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

Did you catch them? Hatred? Jealousy? Envy? What is it but hatred when I make a snap judgment about someone else based on their appearance? That’s not loving! Or what is it but jealousy and envy when I look at someone else’s appearance and wonder why God wouldn’t make me more like that?

The original sin we’ve each inherited from Adam and Eve, our first parents, inevitably leads to a decline in our appearance as we age. But far more important than our external appearance is our spiritual condition: by nature each of us, without Christ, is pretty ugly to God because of our sinful thoughts, words, and attitudes. Beauty is skin deep. But, let’s face it, we’re ugly to the bone.

Yes, we might look nice on the outside, well dressed and clean, groomed and tidy, pretty good looking when we look in the mirror. But when we look into the mirror of God’s law and see our arrogance, our uncharitable thinking, our envy, or any of our horrible sins, we must admit that we look hideous to God.

Jesus once said, “You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.” (Matthew 23:27)

“U-G-L-Y, we ain’t got no alibi. We’re ugly.” We are so ugly in our sin that we deserve to be banished from his beautiful heaven forever—not even fed with a slingshot. And were it not for Christ, that would surely have been our fate. But Jesus intervened to rescue us from that hell. He became ugly for us… 

II.    Ugly on the Outside; Our Beautiful Savior 

Appearances can be deceiving. If anyone in the history of the world should have been dazzlingly handsome, we would expect that it would be Jesus, the Son of God, the man who is God incarnate—sinless and perfect in every way. Wouldn’t you expect the perfect God-man to look like a supermodel? To have a face that any magazine would proudly put on their cover? To have six-pack abs and amazing pecs? Yet what does Isaiah say about him?

“He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

It would seem that Jesus wasn’t so handsome after all. He wasn’t attractive. He had no beauty or majesty. You wouldn’t find him on the cover of GQ or People Magazine. Nothing in his appearance made him stand out. In fact, he may have even been what most consider ugly.

But whatever Jesus looked like, the Gospels tell us how often this prophecy was fulfilled as Christ was “despised and rejected.” People turned away from him, averted their eyes from him, closed their ears to his preaching. And Jesus was attractive… but to suffering. Pain and sorrow seemed to be drawn to him like a moth to a flame.

And you can bet that Jesus didn’t look very pretty when he was suffering on the cross. It was a pretty ugly scene. What Isaiah wrote was literally fulfilled: “Just as there were many who were appalled at him—his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness…”

Like Job, who was so disfigured by the painful sores that covered his face that his friends could hardly recognize him, Jesus was so battered and bruised, bloodied and broken, pummeled and pierced, that he didn’t even look human anymore! He had no fashion, since all of his clothes had been taken from him and all he wore was a crown of thorns. And his piercings weren’t in his ears or nose, but through his hands, through his feet. What an ugly scene it was! How unattractive Jesus looked on the cross.

And that physical pain was just the tip of the iceberg. There were indeed many who were appalled at Jesus, but the worst part was how appalling he was to God the Father. Jesus looked so hideous to God the Father, covered in the ugly filth of our sin, that God would turn his back on his own Son.

What a horrible scene! Who would want to fix their gaze on such an ugly sight? But when we think about why Jesus became so ugly, our view of him changes…

The ugliness of our sins was placed on him so that we might be forgiven. Now, when God looks at you he doesn’t just see that blemish on your face you cover up with makeup, or those extra pounds you’ve been trying to shed, or that physical feature that you wish you could be rid of. Instead, he sees you, robed in Christ’s righteousness, beautiful, gorgeous, ruggedly handsome, perfect in his sight!

You know, it’s not often you hear a man called beautiful or pretty. And most guys wouldn’t take such descriptive words as compliments. Handsome, rugged, distinguished, perhaps, but beautiful and pretty are usually reserved for women, for art, for a landscape. But Jesus’ sacrifice for us is pretty—beautiful even!—even when he was so ugly. He is pretty… ugly. He is so beautiful to us because his ugly wounds have won our eternal life. And this loving grace is for everyone! No one is too ugly for him to love. No one is too full of sin for him to forgive. No wonder we call him “Beautiful Savior!”

And now, in thanks to him, we view others the way God views them. We know that appearances can be deceiving. And we don’t judge a book by its cover anymore.

Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, tells the story of a subway ride he once took. A dad was letting his kids bounce all over the subway car, knocking into other passengers, disrupting their reading, getting in their personal space. The other passengers were getting annoyed, even upset. One mad had had enough. “Please, sir! Would you get control of your kids? This is ridiculous!”

“I’m sorry,” the dad replied, as if coming out of a daze. “We’re coming from the hospital where their mother just died. I don’t think they know how to take it. And I guess, neither do I. I think we’re all in a bit of shock.”

And everyone’s attitude toward that father and toward those kids changed in an instant, when they stopped making a snap judgment, but had that paradigm shift. Everyone on the subway suddenly had compassion on them.

Now we have a paradigm shift about others. We now view those that we once may have thought of as ugly as beautiful souls which have been redeemed by Jesus. And moved by God’s love and compassion for ugly sinners like us, we show love and compassion to them, no matter what they look like. For them too our Savior became pretty ugly so they might be forever beautiful.

So forgive others just as you’ve been forgiven. Love them just as God has loved you. Serve them just as you’ve been served by Jesus. And when you do, what a beautiful thing it will be! How beautiful we’ll look to God! In Jesus’ name, dear friends, amen.

In Him,
Pastor Rob Guenther


Dear friends in Christ, if you've grown closer to your Savior by reading or listening to these sermons, would you consider helping support our ministry here at Grace? You can securely give a recurring gift or just a one-time donation in any amount by check, or by credit or debit card, by visiting www.GraceLutheranKenai.com/Give. Or you can mail a check to Grace Lutheran Church, 47585 Ciechanski Road, Kenai, AK 99611. Thanks for your gift to our Savior in generous support of the ministry we do!

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

Read sermons online: www.GraceLutheranKenai.com/Sermons
Listen to sermons online: www.GraceLutheranKenai.com/Podcast
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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Our Suffering Savior: Unbelievable! (A sermon based on Isaiah 53:1)

That's incredible! That's unbelievable! Sometimes stories we hear are too hard to believe. Sometimes it seems like God's Word is too hard to believe. God has unbelievable power! Just think of all the amazing things the Bible says he's done! But God's love is even more unbelievable! Just think of what he's done for you and me through Jesus, Our Suffering Savior. As unbelievable as these truths may seem, by faith given to us by the Holy Spirit, you and I do believe in God's unbelievable power and his unbelievable grace. Read or listen to (download or stream) this sermon based on Isaiah 53:1 (or click here to watch video of the entire service at our webcast) and believe the unbelievable! 

Our Suffering Savior


A sermon based on Isaiah 53:1

Sunday, March 9, 2014 – Lent 1


“That’s unbelievable! I don’t buy it!” Ever say that when you hear some incredible claim? If I told you I’ve lost 20lbs. this year, you might believe it. If I told you that I also have six-pack abs, you might not.

If I told you that if I were to roll up my sleeves and show off my biceps, that you would all be stunned and amazed by the awesome gun show, you probably wouldn’t believe me. It’s too incredible a claim, it’s unbelievable.

But if God were to make a promise like that, you’d be foolish not to believe it, right? No matter how incredible it might seem, you’d better believe God’s arm is impressive.

This morning, as we examine just one short verse—Isaiah 53:1—we’re reminded that God has unbelievable power! And God has unbelievable love! Our text reads, “Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”


I.      Unbelievable Power


Okay, I admit it. My arm’s not that mighty. But God’s arm? Now that’s as mighty as they come! A huge bicep is the biblical picture of God’s might and strength. We looked at a few of those in Bible Class this morning. In Exodus 6(:6) God promised Moses, “I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.”

In Isaiah 52, God said, “The Lord will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.”

God’s arm is a picture of his power and might acting to save his people. And sometimes God invited people to the gun show. When he forced Pharaoh to let his people go free, he flexed his muscles with the ten plagues. When Jesus performed his miracles, he showed off his pipes. Boom! Disease healed! Pow! Dead brought back to life!

But other times, God’s might and power didn’t seem that impressive. His biceps appeared to be as weak as mine. That’s the way it looked when Jesus was mocked and spit upon. He looked weak when he was taunted and beaten. He didn’t look too impressive when he was scourged or crucified.

How pathetic he seemed, anything but mighty. So people didn’t believe he had power. That claim that he was the Son of God seemed incredible to them. Unbelievable! The Apostle John quoted Isaiah in his Gospel: “Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: ‘Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’” Then he added, “For this reason they could not believe.” (John 12:37-39)

And is it any different today? People still find the claims the Bible makes to be incredible! Bill Nye the Science guy took the challenge to publicly debate Ken Ham, who maintains that the world was created by the power of God’s Word in six 24-hour days. And Bill Nye mocked that anyone could be so foolish to believe that God could speak the world into existence. It’s unbelievable. And many believe that it’s unbelievable that God is actually in control of the world. After all, if he were, how could he let people hurt and suffer the way he does? “God’s power? Where? His mighty arm? I don’t see it! It’s just too incredible. It’s unbelievable.”

But it’s not just the atheist, the agnostic, or the misguided scientist, that finds God’s claims unbelievable. It’s you and me too. “God promises to work all things for the good of his children. But this? How could this situation be good?! This broken relationship, this financial setback, this unanswered prayer?! It’s unbelievable!” Or, “God promises to work through water?! Through bread and wine?! Through some schmuck like Pastor Guenther?! Through some sinner like… me?! That’s too incredible! I don’t believe it.” God promises to forgive my sin. But this time I’ve gone too far. This sin is too big. This sin puts me beyond the reach of God’s grace. I can’t have peace with God. Not after what I’ve done. It’s unbelievable.”

But God’s mighty arm, as weak as it might sometimes seem, is certainly strong enough to accomplish what he has promised: to work all things for your good, to work through you, to work your forgiveness. And you’d better believe it! You see, he doesn’t just have unbelievable power. He also has unbelievable love…


II.    Unbelievable Love


Even though he was being tortured to death, nailed to a cross, and publicly shamed, Jesus remained true God with a mighty arm. He demonstrated that when he knocked those who came to arrest him to the ground with the power of his Word: “I am” and—Boom!—they were leveled! He was demonstrating that he could come down off the cross anytime he wanted to. He was still Mighty God. But the thing is… he didn’t want to. He loved you too much to come down off the cross. He loved me too much to come down off the cross! So he volunteered to be tortured, to be killed, to endure hell itself! Just imagine the restraint it took to stay put and take all that he endured!

It seems too good to be true, doesn’t it? Who would have believed Isaiah when he foretold God’s plan to rescue mankind 700 years before it took place?! “Really?! In some unseen future, God will send some ‘Suffering Servant’ to take our place and die for our sins? Yeah, right, Isaiah. Sure.”

And it seems just as incredible 2,000 years after it took place, doesn’t it? “Some guy died 2,000 years ago and that makes everything okay between us and God now?! Yeah, right, pastor. Sure.”

But you know that it’s true. You know that Jesus’ perfect life, his innocent death, and his resurrection from the dead are not just myth or legend, but fact. “Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

By God’s grace, through the work of the Holy Spirit, you can answer, “I have believed. The Lord’s arm has been revealed to me.” Through the power of the Word, either on its own or connected to the water of Baptism, God has created faith in you. Paul quoted this verse in his letter to the Romans: But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our message?’” But he went on to say, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:16-17)

And he not only created that faith in your heart that believes such incredible things as the forgiveness of sin through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, but he also strengthens that faith through the same word of Christ. He strengthens that faith by giving you his very body and blood—as unbelievable as that may seem!—in the Lord’s Supper!

So you know that that unbelievable love is yours! You are forgiven!  And you know that all of his other promises are true too! If he loves you that much, then you’d better believe that he’ll work all things for your good and keep you safe in your faith until he takes you to glory! Believe it, dear saints! You know that it’s true!

And “Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.” (Psalm 98:1) And, “Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.” (Psalm 96:2-3)

That is to say, point others to God’s flexed muscles—his power to save his people—displayed for all to see on the cross. For this is not just the message, it’s our message—it’s our message to share. Yes, sadly, some will continue to reject his grace as too incredible, as simply unbelievable! But it’s no matter. Some will believe in his incredible power. Some will believe in his incredible love. So share our message of God’s unbelievable power, of God’s unbelievable love. In Jesus’ name dear friends, amen.

In Him,
Pastor Rob Guenther

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

Listen to sermons online: www.GraceLutheranKenai.com/Podcast
Watch services online: www.GraceLutheranKenai.com/Webcast

Monday, March 3, 2014

Witness the Glory of the Lord (A sermon based on 2 Peter 1:16-21)

Ever wish you could have been there at the Mount of Transfiguration to see the glory of the Lord shine in Jesus? Peter, James, and John got to be eyewitnesses of that event. But we have something even better: We have the more certain Word of God. We have prophecies fulfilled. We have the New Testament as well as the Old. We have witnessed the Glory of the Lord in the Word. Now we're eager to witness to others and share what we've seen. Read or listen to (download or stream) this sermon based on 2 Peter 1:16-21 (or click here to watch video of the entire service) and rejoice that you witness the Glory of the Lord!

Witness the Glory of the Lord

A sermon based on 2 Peter 1:16-21

March 2, 2017 -- Transfiguration A


Satan doesn’t really have all that many tricks. He doesn’t need that many. He can keep using the same tricks over and over again. Remember what he said to Eve to get her to doubt God’s Word? He said, “Did God really say you can’t eat from the tree?” In the late 60’s AD Satan tried the same trick. “Did God really say that Jesus is the Son of God? Did he really do miracles and display his glory on the Mount of Transfiguration? How do you know? How do you know they’re not just clever stories?”

So Peter set to writing. He would refute those agents of Satan, those false teachers who led people away from the truth about Christ. He pointed out why he was certain that his trust in Christ was well founded. He had witnessed God’s glory on the mountain. And he told those early Christians how they could be just as certain of God’s truth. They had witnessed God’s glory in the Word.

This morning, as we hear from Peter’s letter, we too witness God’s glory. We’ll witness the Glory of the Lord with Peter on that mountain. We’ll witness his glory revealed in the Word. And we’ll be encouraged to witness his glory to others. Listen now to what Peter wrote about that glory of the Lord…


16 We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.

19 And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

I.              With Peter 

Peter knew he would soon die. He wouldn’t be around on this earth much longer. So he set out to write one last reminder of the faith he’d shared with others. This time he wrote to counter the scoffers, as Peter called them, who mocked the Christians saying Judgment Day wasn’t really coming; that Christ wouldn’t return. “How gullible can you get?!” they said. “Dead people don’t come back to life! You Christians are believing in fairy tales! You might as well be waiting for the Tooth Fairy!”

But Peter assured the Christians under attack that what they believed wasn’t just a bunch of stories. It wasn’t fiction like some of the stories other Rabbis had told. What they believed wasn’t made up like the books of the Apocrypha that were already in circulation. He should know. He was there. He saw the glory of the Lord with his own eyes… 16 We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

We just read the account in our gospel lesson, but put yourself in Peter’s place. He saw a glimpse of the full glory of Jesus on the mountain. The closest thing I can imagine is being in a dark house with all the curtains drawn so no light gets in, then suddenly stepping out of the house into the blinding summer sun. He saw Jesus shine like the sun! He saw two prophets who were long gone alive and talking to Jesus! He heard the very voice of God the Father speaking from heaven! What an event! No wonder Peter could never forget that day when he saw the glory of God.

So what’s Peter’s point? He knows—without a doubt—that what he and those Christians believed was true. Jesus was—is!—true God. That assured him that his death on the cross is sufficient to pay for his, and for their, sins.

In 1969 the newspaper headlines read, “Man Has Landed on the Moon.” But some said (and still say), “No. They didn’t. The video we saw on TV was made on a fancy Hollywood set. The so-called ‘moon rocks’ I can find in my back yard. It’s all an elaborate hoax, a government conspiracy, a clever story, to get more funds for NASA.” But ask Neil Armstrong. Ask Buzz Aldrin. They were there. They saw it. They experienced it. They know it happened. There is no doubt in their minds.

“Well,” you might say, “great for Neil! Great for Buzz! Great for Peter! They got to be eyewitnesses of these spectacular events. But what about us? How are we supposed to know it’s true? We weren’t there!” And you’d be right. We weren’t there. We didn’t go to the moon. We didn’t see the transfiguration. We didn’t see the miracles of Jesus. We weren’t there on Good Friday.”

And in our weakness, we sometimes doubt that Jesus has power, that he has glory. We think, “He’s not really in control. He can’t really help me in this problem. He won’t really return soon.” And even if we don’t say it out loud, we certainly act like it, don’t we? We forget he’s watching our every action. We forget he hears our every word. We forget he knows our very thoughts because we forget about his glory. And for such unbelief—and let’s call a spade a spade. That’s what it is—we deserve to have no part in the Glory of the Lord, but to be forsaken by him.

But thank God that we are forgiven. The account of Christ is not a myth. We can believe it without a doubt even though we’re not eye witnesses. In fact, Peter tells us that what we have to cling to is better than being an eyewitness…

II.            With the Word 

He says, “…we have the word of the prophets made more certain…“ But the word “made” isn’t in the Greek. Perhaps a better translation would be, “We have the more certain word of the prophets.” In a sense, Peter answers the objection, “So what if you saw it. We didn’t.” “You’re right,” he says, “you weren’t there. You didn’t see it. So don’t take my word for it. Take the Word for it.”

The accounts we have of what Jesus has done aren’t human stories or fairy tales. They’re not the invention of the prophets who sat down to try to come up with something that would stir their readers. No! They are the very Word of God, what we call verbally inspired. And that Word can be trusted, Peter says, even more than his eyewitness account.

But what does verbal inspiration mean? Well, first let’s discuss what it doesn’t mean. When I was dating Becky, my desire to be with her and spend more time with her inspired me to write a few cheesy lines of poetry (which I’d rather not share with you, to be honest). But that’s not the way we understand the inspiration of the Biblical authors. It’s not like a pretty sunset or a pretty girl inspired them to write something nice. It’s not like the inventor of Velcro saw burrs stick to a dog and was inspired to invent. It’s much more.

To better understand, let’s take look at the word inspired. When the milk in the fridge that’s been there too long expires it breaths out its life and dies. Inspire then doesn’t mean breath out, but breath in. The Holy Spirit breathed into the human authors giving them the very words and sentences they wrote. That’s what Paul meant when he said to Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed…” (2 Timothy 3:16)

And what comfort that is to you and me! The Bible stories that you’ve learned are not on par with Aesop’s Fables or Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. They are the truth of God. That means that Jesus’ death on the cross isn’t just some fairy tale to make you feel good. It’s a fact. Jesus’ resurrection isn’t some myth to sell more copies of the Bible. It’s a fact. Our forgiveness isn’t imagined or made up. It’s very real. And the return of Christ to judge the world is not some legend, but is true and will certainly happen.

You have seen the Glory of the Lord in Jesus through the Word. And through him you have forgiveness even for your doubts. And so even though in our sin the thought of seeing the glory of God was once terrifying, exposing all of our shameful secrets, now, in Christ (as he’s revealed to you in the Word) the glory of God is exciting. That glory becomes our own. And now that we’ve witnessed the glory of the Lord for ourselves, we can’t help but witness to others…

III.           With Others 

When Peter saw Moses and Elijah speaking with Jesus, he wanted to set up three tents. The best thing that he could do, he thought, was to stay right there and worship Jesus with the ancient prophets. But that wasn’t what God had in mind. Peter wouldn’t stay on that Mount of Transfiguration, but would continue with Jesus on his way to Calvary so he could witness still more and in turn share with others what he saw.

And that’s exactly what Peter did. Now, near the end of his life, he would do all he could to encourage the believers who were ridiculed and persecuted for their faith. He wrote to those who were tempted to turn their backs on Christ to follow cleverly invented stories. He wrote them to share with them the certain hope that he had and the certain hope that could be theirs too from the Scriptures.

And now we too can become witnesses for God. We have that same hope that Peter had made more certain. We have not only the Old Testament prophetic Word, but the New Testament apostolic Word as well. We have the certain Word of God himself.

Let’s resolve today to make a better effort of paying attention to that Word; to hold on to it as the only source of light in this dark world. Let’s read it, study it, and learn it, not just for ourselves, that we might grow in our faith and be more certain of our hope, but also that we might always be prepared to share the reason for the hope that we have.

This week I was again reminded of the acronym S.A.L.T. in Evangelism. It stands for Start, Ask, Listen, Tell. First, just start a conversation with someone. Ask how they’re doing. Ask about their kids. Ask what’s going on in their lives or what they’re doing this weekend. Then steer the conversation to ask deeper questions. Ask what church they go to? What they like about their church or don’t like about it? If they have no church, ask what’s kept them from going? Then listen. Really listen. Hear what they’re saying and try to figure out what they mean. Try to understand not just the words, but the emotion behind what they say. Follow up with more questions to ask why they think or feel the way they do. And really listen. Then, once you’ve earned the right to be listened to, by the listening you’ve done, tell. Tell them what you’ve become convinced of. Tell them what the Word (which is more certain than what we see or feel) says. Tell them the Law and the Gospel. Speak of sin and grace. Speak of our Savior’s glory on the cross to pay for their sins. Tell them of his resurrection that they too may be more certain.

Yes, we’ve witnessed the glory of the Lord! We may not have witnessed it with our own eyes on the mount of transfiguration. But we’ve witnessed his glory shining through most clearly in the more certain Word. Now let’s resolve to witness to others to share our certain hope with them that they too might see the glory of the Lord, that they too might have that light in the darkness, that they too might be prepared for that day when the Morning Star returns in glory. Let’s witness. In Jesus’ name, dear friends, amen.

In Him,

Pastor Rob Guenther


Dear friends in Christ, if you've grown closer to your Savior by reading or listening to these sermons, would you consider helping support our ministry here at Grace? You can securely give a recurring gift or just a one-time donation in any amount by check, or by credit or debit card, by visiting www.GraceLutheranKenai.com/Give. Or you can mail a check to Grace Lutheran Church, 47585 Ciechanski Road, Kenai, AK 99611. Thanks for your gift to our Savior in generous support of the ministry we do!

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

Read sermons online: www.GraceLutheranKenai.com/Sermons
Listen to sermons online: www.GraceLutheranKenai.com/Podcast
Watch services online: www.GraceLutheranKenai.com/Webcast