Sunday, August 26, 2012

“God’s Mighty Wonders” (Isaiah 29:13-14)

S-1334 13SAP/3B 8/26/12 Hymns: (O) #41; (S) #76; L.S. #262; 307; 261; (C) #53

Text: Isaiah 29:11-19; Ephesians 5:22-33; Mark 7:1-3

Theme: “God’s Mighty Wonders” (Isaiah 29:13-14)

Question: “What are some wonderful things you have seen?” Armour, SD.

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text is from the O.T. lesson: “And the Lord said: ‘Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden’” (Isaiah 29:13-14).

You who are wonderfully and fearfully created in the image of Him who is a loving and wonderful God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; there are times when we have been at Dakota Fest, the State Fair or craft show and saw beautiful hand-crafted items.

As we walk from one booth to another, we marvel at the craftsmanship of people in creating such lovely and wonderful pieces. Some of these are made out of wood, metal, ceramic and fabric. As we hold these items and look at them intently, we say, “Wow what lovely, beautiful and wonderful things these are!”

Today, by the Spirit’s power, we have been brought not to Dakota Fest, the State Fair or a craft show, but to the house of God. Today, Isaiah, the prophet of God, speaks about the many wonderful things our loving God promises to do to His people of old and to us.

Often times we marvel at the technological advances we have reached. We are amazed at the abilities of doctors to perform the most delicate transplant surgeries—of heart, liver, kidney and others. We are impressed by the gift of engineers that can build planes, space crafts, and submarines that go where no one has gone before, and build bridges that span over 100 miles (Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge).

But today, we are not here to speak of man’s wonder because they pale in comparison to the Mighty Wonders of God that Isaiah speaks about. Today, Isaiah is sharing with you the Only God who is mighty, and does many wonderful things that we can’t fathom. This is done to strengthen your faith and exhorts you to live as His wonderfully created and redeemed children.

Here are some events that show the Mighty wonders of our Awesome God. We see His mighty wonders when He goes seeking and searching for Adam and Eve after falling from His grace. We see His mighty wonders in granting an elderly 91 year old woman to conceive and bear a son. We see His mighty wonders as He separated the waters of the Red Sea before the Israelites who walked on dry ground so they could escape Pharaoh’s army. We see His mighty wonders as He provided food, water, shelter, protection and all that Israel needed for 40 years in the wilderness. We see His mighty wonders when He stopped the sun for a day so Joshua (10:13) can win the war. We see His mighty wonders as the Lord uses Elijah to minister to the Widow of Zarephath, so that the jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth (1 Kings 17:14). We see the Lord’s mighty wonders as He uses Elisha to change the bitter waters of Jericho by putting salt into it and was made sweet and brought forth healing. (2 Kings 2:18-22). PAUSE.

These are all wonderful deeds that our Mighty God has done. But did you know that He still does mighty wonders even today? This past Monday and Tuesday, I was at the District Office for the New Pastors’ Orientation meeting. While we were going around introducing ourselves, one pastor said this: “I used to be a Pagan. Didn’t worship God at all nor believed in Him. However, I was on a debate team. My coach happened to be a pastor. One day he invited me to come to Bible study in his church and I accepted. I thought if I could debate any subject, I could debate the Divinity of Christ. I attended the Bible study and was about to leave when a young lady asked me “Why don’t you stay for the worship service?” I did stay and for the first time heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. With the help of the young lady (who eventually became my wife) I started attending church and eventually became a pastor in our BELOVED District” (South Dakota). This is indeed a mighty wonder of God in the life of a pagan who became a preacher of Jesus Christ.

Again, we see His mighty wonders as He uses His servants as they proclaim the Word to sinners. A pastor in the northern part of SD was called by one of his members to visit an 84 year old man in the hospital who is not a member of the congregation. The pastor gladly did and visited with the elderly man. In due time, the pastor proclaimed the Gospel of Christ Jesus and the man asked to be baptized into the faith and eventually confirmed. One day, as this pastor was visiting him, the elderly person said, “Pastor, why didn’t anyone tell me sooner about this awesome God?”

I don’t know the answer to why people don’t speak of the mighty wonders of our awesome God. I do know, however, that we don’t speak enough of what He has done and continues to do even today. If only we take the time to share the amazing things our Savior has done for us with others, we would see more of His amazing wonders as evident with the two stories shared with you—a pagan becomes a believer and an elderly man before he dies bows the knee before the Lord Almighty. PAUSE.

As great as all of these wonderful events, they pale in comparison to the mighty wonders of God who in time sent His ONLY Son to earth to be born of a woman, under the Law to fulfill the Law of God in our stead. The wonder is that Jesus would be willing to humble Himself to be born in a stable. The wonder is that Jesus would grow up to walk faithfully before His Father and observe all of His decrees. The wonder is that Jesus would demonstrate His Divinity by acts of mercy and compassion. The wonder is that Jesus would allow people to abuse Him, shame Him and mock Him; by stripping Him naked and crucifying to death on a cross, for a pagan, an 84 year old man, you and me.

The wonder is that Jesus would even today come to us who more often than not worship Him only with our lips, but NOT with our hearts. The wonder is that Jesus would even today, come to us as the sin-destroyer and sin-remover of God’s wrath and hell’s punishment through His death on Calvary’s cross.

The wonder is that Jesus would even now come to bless us and show us His mighty wonders in forgiving us our sins, giving us His body and blood to yet again, use His mighty power to destroy the sins that cling to us and drown them in the heart of the sea—that is Holy Baptism. The wonder is that Jesus still seeks after people just like us, as He did in the Garden of Eden when He sought out Adam and Eve. And when He seeks…He finds.

Certainly, there are many amazing and wonderful creations in our world. But they ALL pale in comparison to the wonder of a loving, holy, gracious God who loves the sinner—you and me and would be willing to die and rise for them.

No wonder, Isaiah speaks so beautifully of what our Almighty God would do to the Israelites and us “I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder.” See this wonder yet again today beloved. The Lord puts it before you. Freely eat. Freely Drink. Freely bask in His grace. Then freely share! Share the Wonderful deeds He has done for the world and for YOU! To Him be the glory forever Amen.

Now the peace…


Sunday, August 19, 2012

“Fear is A GOOD Think” (Proverbs 9:10)

S-1333 12SAP/3B 7/29/12 Hymns: (O) #427 vs.1-3; (S) #427 vs.3-7; (C) #437

Text: Proverbs 9:1-10; Ephesians 5:6-21; John 6:51-69

Theme: “Fear is A GOOD Think” (Proverbs 9:10)

Question: “What Frightens You?” Armour, SD.

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text is from the O.T. lesson: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:10).

Saints in Christ, life is a balancing act, a tightrope walk with over-commitment on one side and under-commitment on the other. And we need the wisdom of God to help us manage how to walk this tight rope, so that we may not fall prey to pride (which causes us to attempt too much) or to fear (which causes us to attempt to little).

On Friday night, June 15th of this year, Nik Wallenda became the first man to walk over the Niagara Gorge in 116 years—and the first ever to walk right over the falls. As the 100.000 + crowd gathered beneath him to watch his daredevil walk, you could hear the awe in their voices and fear in their faces. But he confidently walked the tightrope and 30 minutes later was standing on the other side. Mr. Wallenda had a healthy fear and respect for what he was doing, that he wore a safety harness.

John insists that “perfect love casts out fear” (1 Jn 4:18). On the other hand, Peter urges Christians to fear God (1 Pet 2:17), while Paul affirms his fear of the Lord (2 Cor 5:11). What shall we make of these apparent contradictions? “Fear” (ary) first appears in the OT when Adam and Eve rebel against Yahweh (Gen 3:10), so fear is bad. However, Job, who is a person of great piety, is described as someone who fears Yahweh (Job 1:1, 8–9; 2:3); so fear is good. From one angle, fear demonstrates our lack of trust in God’s goodness, while from a different perspective fearing God is the Bible’s way of describing a true believer as our text states today, (Pro. 9:10). In the OT it is often “the principle religious virtue.”

It is important for us as followers of Jesus to distinguish and realize that there is a wrong kind of fear and a right kind of fear. Certainly there is a good fear. Luther a Hebrew scholar in the Small Catechism speaks repeatedly in the meaning of the commandments... “We should fear, love and trust in God…”

This kind of fear is healthy, vital and beneficial. We see this demonstrated by those who feared the Lord. Joseph had the right kind of fear. When he was tempted by Potiphar’s wife, he shunned her advances saying: “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:8-9). David had the right kind of fear as well. While being chased by King Saul, he had opportunity to kill the King. But wouldn’t, saying: “Behold, this day your eyes have seen how the LORD gave you today into my hand in the cave. And some told me to kill you, but I spared you. I said, ‘I will not put out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD’s anointed’” (1 Samuel 24:10).

Likewise for us, there is a good and healthy fear. When you are standing near a big electrical station, you see the sign in bold, large, red letters: “Danger, don’t approach or touch” Fear keeps us away.

When we properly fear God we will not fear man. So often though, our fear is the wrong kind of fear...Peter had the wrong kind of fear on the stormy sea. The disciples had the wrong kind of fear. On the eve when their Master and Lord was dragged from Gethsemane they fled and ran for their lives. PAUSE.

We, too, have the wrong kind of fear. We fear all kinds of stuff: We are afraid to go to the Dr. because he may say, “The big “C” word, “Its cancer!” When we have pain in our chest, and numbness in our arms, we fear that we might be having a heart attack. And yet, so many of us in this situation would not go to the doctor, even it meant costing us our life!

Some fear sickness and death... When Hamburg was stricken with the plague and large numbers were dying, the healthy, which were fearful of being numbered among the dead, flocked to the churches of the city, which they would not do previously. It was not the fear of God that drew them to church but the fear of the cholera; as soon as the pest abated, the zeal for the worship of God also abated. (Dallmann) [We can recall a similar process shortly after 9/11!] Some fear loneliness and loss... Willing to defy the will of God, as long as they are not alone…Some fear rejection and persecution by others... Willing to do whatever “the group” demands, so that they might be accepted.

We are far too quick to lose the true sense of the fear of God. Jesus teaches the truth saying: “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear Him who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:4-7).

Solomon the wise man of God and the author of our text, just before he died, wrote the book of Ecclesiastes. In the final chapter of this book, he states: “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” Ecclesiastes (12:13).

This is the joy of man: to fear God. The good kind of fear flows into our hearts as we see the love of Christ for mankind. Through the message of the cross the proper fear is created. Thus, we pray, like David, “Create in me a clean heart with the right fear so that I may truly love Thee O Lord.”

That GOOD fear is created by the Spirit that dwells in us and guides us along the journey of life. For this reason, as forgiven Children of God, standing in His Spirit by grace through faith, we no longer need to fear that the Lord will Judge us! Now He can be celebrated as a loving Father. We fear His wrath if we cross the line, as any wise child fears the punishing wrath of his father, but our love for Him is also constant! We know His forgiving love personally. We have tasted it, we have experienced it and have known it. Week after week the pastor says, “Go in the peace of the Lord, your sins are forgiven you!”

You are children of the heavenly Father – for whom Jesus Christ did suffer and die. He was the only ONE to ever fully fear the wrath of His Father in Heaven. He alone satisfied the Law’s demands on our lives. The price to satisfy all justice has been paid upon the cross, and your sins are remembered no more. The forgiveness that you crave is here for you in the very Word and Sacraments of Jesus. He absolves you through the voice of your pastor. He instructs you and moves you to repentance through the proclamation of His living Word. He feeds you from His table with His own Body and Blood. He blesses you with the blessing from Heaven as you gather in His Holy Name.

You have been given the gift of a living faith by the power of the Holy Spirit, who was poured out upon you in the waters of Holy Baptism. Your sinful flesh trembles in fear of the death that awaits all who sin; yet your new life in Christ Jesus will last beyond physical death unto resurrection and everlasting life!

Therefore, with great joy in our hearts today we Delight in the GOOD fear—the Fear of the Lord! Rejoice that you have received the gift of the Holy Spirit, and that by His power you have received the gift of Holy fear…This has been given you today through Jesus Christ your LORD and God. Amen.

Now the peace…


Sunday, August 12, 2012

“Rise and Eat” (1 Kings 19:7-8)

S-1332 11SAP/3B 7/29/12 Hymns: (O) #277; (S) #330; L.S. #306; #310; #312; (C) # 47

Text: 1 Kings 19:1-8; Ephesians 4:17-5:2; John 6:35-51

Theme: “Rise and Eat” (1 Kings 19:7-8)

Question: “Have you been invited for dinner?” Armour, SD.

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text is from the O.T. lesson: “And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, ‘Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.’ And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God” (1 Kings 19:7-8).

Beloved in the Lord, last year while on the Holy Land Nour Tour, my dear friend from Bethlehem invited my wife and me for supper at his home. We left the Nativity hotel and went to his house for the evening. When we got there, his wife, daughter, daughter-in-law, and the future mother-in-law of his daughter where all in the kitchen; and in the yard another man was manning the grill. After about an hour or so, the food was placed on the table and my friend George said, “Let us rise and eat.”

When we sat around the table it was a beautiful sight. There was stuffed zucchini and grape leaves, grilled lamb chops and chicken breasts, tubule, humus, rice and many other dishes. There were only 11 of us, but there was enough food for more people—it was a beautiful banquet. We ate and when I said, “I’ve had enough,” my friend kept piling it on. I remember that night very well because we were treated as royalty. It was a night to remember with wonderful company, food and great conversations.

I am certain it was a very memorable day for Elijah also. His journey began in fear and ended up filled with faith. He was running for his life and ended up conversing with the Lord of Life. He wished to die, but God in His grace granted him new life.

The author of Kings informs us that Ahab tells his wicked wife Jezebel all that Elijah had done—killing the 450 prophets of Baal. Having heard this news, she promises revenge on Elijah: Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, ‘So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow’ (1 Kings 19:2). The author uses specific terms as a play on words. The irony about the term “messenger”, in the Hebrew language can be translated as angel or messenger. A little later, (which are the verses of our text), the author uses the same term for the angel who comes to the aid of Elijah.

Wicked Jezebel sends a messenger of death, but God sends a messenger of life. Jezebel sends someone to do her dirty work, but God comes to do the good work. The Angle of the Lord—the Pre-Incarnate Christ comes to His rescue, touches Elijah and says to Him, “Rise and Eat!” Twice the Angel of the Lord appears on the scene, to comfort, to strengthen and to encourage Elijah not to be afraid, but to go on in His might; and He feeds Him because the journey ahead is too great for him.

Here the Angel of the Lord affirms to Elijah and to all people the journey of life is too difficult if traveled alone. By His gracious visit, the Angel gives Him food and drink so that Elijah may continue the vocation and ministry the Lord has called Him to. What grace God showed to His servant Elijah in not giving him what he asked for, but reserved something better for him.

And so it is for us as His follower. God’s grace continues to be poured upon us to remind us that: Without His help, we can’t make the journey. But with God’s help, the journey becomes possible, plausible and pleasant; because of His strength and might at work in our lives. PAUSE.

This is a blessed story to remind us that, we, too, are invited to “rise and eat.” Week after week the Lord of heaven and earth gives us His food and drink to sustain us on the journey of life. Not only to sustain us as it did Elijah for 40 days/nights, but throughout our earthly pilgrimage to continue in our vocation and ministry of the Lord. We meet in this place to receive from Him the heavenly food which helps us overcome every messenger of evil and death, and receive the message of life and salvation.

Even though Elijah, the mighty man of God had done great and awesome deeds—specifically killing the 450 prophets of Baal and other miracles, he ran for his life and wanted to die. Yet the Angle of the Lord came to him, touched and fed him.

Thus we learn from this that there is nothing that we bring to the table when we are in Jesus’ presence. Rather we come as a sinner in need of a Savior, a sick person in need of a doctor, a sheep in search of a shepherd, a corpse in search of life! The prodigal son didn’t buy himself a new garment when he returned to his father. He came just as he was—tattered, and torn. And what did the Father do? He RAN to him. So Jesus comes running for us. He is not put off by the filth of our sin. Rather, wearing the blood stained and cross marred garments of human flesh He extends the heavenly welcome of forgiveness to us as redeemed sinners.

He touches us here in this place with His Word and soon with His heavenly food at His Altar. Here in this place, we are touched by the pierced hands of the One whose might is revealed by destroying every enemy of ours—sin, death, and the devil.

You and I have been touched by the Incarnate Christ. Touched by the mighty and powerful waters of Baptism; touched by the joyful proclamation of sins forgiven; touched by His hands as He feeds us the blessed body and gives us to drink from His precious blood.

This is what we need for the journey. This is not a luxury, but a necessity. We need Him to touch us, feed us and bless us. We need to hear often the words from His lips saying: “Rise and Eat!” Why? PAUSE.

Because, like the body, the soul needs bread or it will die. But unlike with our bodies, stuff that just looks like bread will not do the job. Some set before the hungry soul the loaves of man’s own works. But such bread is less than cardboard with no vitamins of forgiveness. Others serve up the packaged loaves of man’s own theology. But such bread is full of holes, hold­ing no sure promise of an eternal home. Where do you find the bread of heaven? The hungry soul needs to know.

In Jesus! When He described Himself as the bread of life in our Gospel reading today, He had more than flour, shortening, and water in mind. He meant His perfect life that would fulfill all of God’s commands and His precious blood that would be spilt in full payment for all sins. The soul, famished because of sin, can feast on Jesus’ payment and be filled. The soul, hungry for a perfect life to present to God in the judgment, can reach for Jesus’ right­eousness and be satisfied. For the hungry sinner, Jesus is not just good bread. He’s the ONLY bread that came down from heaven.

Now wonder, Elijah was strengthened for the task at hand. No wonder with the strength of God and the food he received; he went on serving God until the Lord took him home. Likewise, we need this food to go on in our ministry of serving in His Kingdom. PAUSE.

O faithful children of God: Rise as forgiven sinners and come to Him who has come to feed you for Life.

Rise as the Redeemed people of God and come to Him who has paid the penalty for your sins.

Rise as the precious people of God and come to dine with Him who is here to serve you not for 40 days, but your life’s journey.

Rise as the blood-bought children of God and come to Him who invites you now to eat at His table and as He gives you with His own hands the heavenly manna.

Rise and eat—the feast is ready and all are welcome. Amen.

Now the peace…


Saturday, August 11, 2012



What comes to your mind when you hear these words? This term is used by the military as a tactic, in which a line of troops was supposed to prevent an enemy breakthrough. In a department store, it meant keep the prices the same and firemen use the same term meaning, let’s not allow the fire to jump over the line and keep people from harm’s way.

But did you know that term can be applied to the life of believers—followers of Jesus Christ?

Servants of Christ—Pastors, teachers, and church leaders are God’s frontline defense of His church on earth. They wit­ness firsthand the devastating effects of Satan’s bombardment, barrage and onslaught of God’s redeemed people. They hunker along­side you in the trenches of life. Their genuine desire is to keep watch over you for your spiritual safety and salvation. On the Day of Judgment, they will report to the Triune God for the groups of souls, large or small, entrusted to their care. That’s their privilege, honor and blessed responsibility.

But what happens to these leaders at the mention of your name, how would they react—perhaps with a wince or a warm smile? Are you a source of joy or grief? Are you a blessing or a burden?

In the church of Christ no matter how hard we try, we have broken relationships. Because we live in a fallen and sinful world, things happen that separates us from Christ’s love and from one another. And nothing fills Satan with more joy than to infiltrate our ranks in order to create division. He wants you to think “the enemy is your fellow brother or sister. He stirs the juices of misperceptions. He hopes we hurt one another wield­ing the weapon of words. His goal is anarchy in the church: angry members, anguished leaders, and lost souls.”

I have heard too many times a brother or sister, who has been hurt by Pastor, Teacher or Leader, I WILL NEVER FORGIVE THEM FOR WHAT THEY HAVE DONE. Not realizing with these words they are only giving the enemy ammunition to keep us apart. Many, who have been hurt, stay away from the Lord’s house and the grace He offers through Absolution, hearing His Word, and receiving His Sacrament; thinking by doing this they are hurting the church, but in reality hurting themselves.

Hold the line, dear Christian, alongside your leaders! The battle is not against one another but against enemies that do not have flesh or blood as the Apostle Paul reminds us: For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12). Use God’s holy weapon of Christian love to achieve your mission: “Keep on loving each other as brothers” (Hebrews 13:1). Jesus fought with the holy weapon of love. He prayed, forgave, and loved us to death on a cross. He chose to obey His Father’s will. He blessed those who wronged Him. And today, His church carries out the mission of forgiving others in His stead and by His command.

Most of us don’t spend much time thinking about forgiveness; we worry and fret, instead, about the injustices we have suffered and the people who inflicted them. Remember God has a better plan: He wants us to live in the present, not in the past, and He knows that only His love and Spirit will help us forgive those who have harmed and hurt us.

I therefore exhort you in the name of the Lord of the Church, Jesus Christ to join your church leaders, and fight for one another—because you are fighting for their souls. Following the lead of a godly leader reveals your faith in and obedience to God. Besides, nothing fills the heart of the Father with more joy than the willing obedience of His Son. Nothing brings more glory to God than people and leaders declaring, “Let’s hold the line together in the mission of saving souls!”

Hold the line, dear Christian, and may your knees never be too stiff to bend in prayer! Reach out this week to someone with whom you feel distanced. Tell them, “I want to see you soon.” Pray that Christ’s love runs deeply through you in sincere words and affec­tionate feelings. May it give you the opportunity to share their bur­dens and to “comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we our­selves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort over­flows” (2 Corinthians 1:4, 5) to others, because they are our precious brothers and sisters—they are the ONES for whom Christ paid His ultimate—His life’s blood on Calvary’s cross.

Hold the line, dear followers of the Savior and fight the fight for the soul of your dearly loved and cherished brother and sister in Christ. Please, reach out to those who have hurt you, or you have hurt, and let us not allow the devil to continue to have his heyday but kick him out of the life of the Church and the hearts of His redeemed people.

God bless you as you HOLD THE LINE today and always.

Friday, August 10, 2012

“Grace in the Face of Grumbling” (Exodus 16:6-8)

S-1331 10SAP/3B 7/29/12 Hymns: (O) #374; (S) #57 SOD; (C) #50

Text: Exodus 16:2-15; Ephesians 4:1-16; John 6:22-35

Theme: Grace in the Face of Grumbling” (Exodus 16:6-8)

Question: “Do you grumble?” Armour, SD.

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text is from the O.T. lesson: “So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, ‘At evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because He has heard your grumbling against the Lord. For what are we, that you grumble against us?’ And Moses said, ‘When the Lord gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the Lord has heard your grumbling that you grumble against Him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord’” (Ex. 16:6-8).

O you who are sought after and cherished by the Father of all love. When we think of “grace”, we often think of these words: God’s richest at Christ’s expense. Or we might think of getting what we don’t deserve. When we think of “grumbling” we think of complaining, griping, murmuring and whining. You have heard your share—it is too hot, it is too cold. Last year we got too much rain, this year we have gotten none.

Though we are the most indulged society in the world, yet, we are the most discontent society in the world. It appears that the more people have the more they seem to be discontent with what they have and the more complaining they seem to be. Complaining is a big part of our broken world. PAUSE.

In this country we have many lovely parks. In one park which contained several trails, park rangers decided to put out comment cards. The officials were looking for feedback regarding the walking paths. Here are some of the comments which were actually written by hikers:

1. “Make the trails wider so we can hold hands while walking.”

2. “Trails have too many bugs, spiders; and leeches; spray to get rid of them.”

3. “Pave the trails so they can be snow plowed in the winter.”

4. “Install chair lifts so we don’t have to hike.” Would you believe the next one?

5. “Installing a McDonalds at the end of the trail would be nice.”

Grumbling is nothing new. It has been around ever since the fall of man into sin. And today, we hear the Israelites grumbling against Pastor Moses. He has done everything right, obeyed God’s Word, delivered them out of slavery and passed them through the Red Sea. But once they crossed over, the grumbling was loud and clear. “We wished we hadn’t come here, we don’t like this food, this heat, it would have been better if we died in Egypt rather than in this wilderness etc. etc.”

The heart of man is never satisfied. We grumble never realizing how much more energy it takes, how difficult it is on the heart, the head, and the soul. We complain about anything and everything. So did the Israelites. And Pastor Moses, informed them with the words of our text saying: At evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because He has heard your grumbling against the Lord. For what are we, that you grumble against us? You are not grumbling against us, but against God.

Our loving God, rather than punish the grumblers promises to give them grace upon grace. Moses is very emphatic here, “you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord.” Indeed God’s glory was revealed by providing them bread from heaven, which they are to gather daily as much as they need. The people were so amazed when they woke the next morning and saw the white film on the ground and said, (Manna!) what is this? He satisfied their hunger and quenched their thirst. This is the God who does mighty wonders among us. This is the God who gives us what we don’t deserve. PAUSE.

To know the Father, to believe in Jesus, this is His gift to you. What a heart, what grace! This is His gift to the blind, deaf, dumb, dead world. What grace, what love! When you feel like grumbling, know this, beloved, He not only hears you and will not abandon you. Your sinful selfishness does not disqualify you from His grace. It confirms that grace is truly grace and gracious. It is this love of the Father, given in and through the Son who never once grumbled. He alone perfectly believed in Romans 8:28, by the Spirit’s power that does indeed draw all men unto Himself - this through the Cross (John 12:32). This is He whom the Father sent—the Bread which comes down from heaven (John 6). This is why the Father sent the Son: That sinners like you and like me would know God as gracious, merciful, patient, forgiving and that we would know peace and live with Him in peace.

Grace in the face of grumbling is getting what we don’t deserve. Want is met, thirst is satisfied! If there is anything that marks our God it is that He knows our “pining.” He knows our need and in His Amazing Grace He not only meets that need, but exceeds it. He meets our need for light not only by the sun in the Sky but giving us His One and Only Son to be the Light of the World. He not only calms our fears He grants us the faith to trust that He has overcome EVERY enemy. He not only gives us this life with its years and decades, He gives us a life that lasts forever in Christ! When you hunger and thirst for His righteousness, know this beloved - He is here - you are satisfied (Matthew 5:6).

In the Gospel reading for this morning, we see this grace that came down from heaven. John put it this way: For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Jesus came down from heaven. He is with us and He gives (present tense) - He continually feeds, continually, fully, always, every day and for more than 40 years - through your whole life, He gives His life to the world. This we celebrate with the once-for-all time gift of the cross - His broken body and shed blood, given then, and with continual blessing, continual giving, that like the manna from heaven, kept the Children of God as they wandered those 40 years.

He feeds you with Manna (What is it?!). Through the human hands of your pastor and your elders, even as He speaks His absolution for your sins through your pastor’s voice. If the incarnation means anything, it is that He does not love you by remote control. He knows your sin, and... He knows how to restore, refresh, and renew you. He hears your grumbles and answers more richly than we either can ask or deserve.

Yes, we don’t deserve God’s grace or goodness. We all grumble—I mean ALL. We are not content with what we have in life. We complain about everything. And God wasn’t content either. That is why He sent His Son—the Bread that came down from heaven. The Son without grumbling and complaining did what you, I and the Israelites couldn’t do—He went to the cross without opening His mouth. As Isaiah tells us: “He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (53:7). Indeed God’s Son didn’t open His mouth to complain about being crucified. He opened His mouth to give grace to the burdened, the battered and beaten by Satan. He gave us Grace upon grace from His sweet lips when He forgave our sins.

God’s grace was and is being poured upon us today so that you may believe in Him whom He sent. Because of the grace that came down from heaven, you can indeed rejoice - for even that joy is rooted and grounded in Christ. Grumbling is met by Amazing Grace. Your work is His gift, and He is using that gracious believing to touch the dead world out there, and to encourage the family of faith here. Take Jesus’ final words and promise with you into this new week: “I Am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst”. Now that is grace in the face of grumbling, Amen!

Now the peace of God…