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Grace Notes: This changes things! Part II
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No matter who you are, storms will come in your life. But as Jesus preaches in his Sermon on the Mount, he makes it clear that with his word, we handle those storms better. And the more we are in the word, the more firmly entrenched we become so we can hide from the storms in those offers and promises of God.

So when the winds of stress blow, this word reminds you that you can, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7).

When waves of loneliness break, hear our Savior’s words echoing: "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5). Or see that vivid picture when God says through Isaiah: "I have engraved you on the palms of my hand" (Isaiah 49:16).

When you are shaken by the thunder of your loss, Job’s words come rushing back, "I know that my redeemer lives and that in the end he will stand upon the earth, and after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God" (Job 19:25)… Or Jesus’ promise: "Because I live you also will live" (John 14:19).

And when danger strikes, David’s words protect you: "The Lord is my shepherd…I shall not want…Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil" (Psalm 23).

And no matter what the storm does, his promise remains, "In all things God works for the good of those who love him" (Romans 8:28).

And I know, in all those things Satan tries to distract us, tries to get us to doubt these promises, to see our guilt and unworthiness, to fear, to worry, but the word works. The word is more powerful than our doubts, more powerful than our sin sickness, more powerful than our death. Remember the word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. That word made flesh (Jesus) came to take all that guilt, shame, fear and punishment upon himself.

And he paid for it all. That’s why we sing "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness."

Jesus came to keep the promises, to keep the word, to make it absolutely rock solid by winning the forgiveness promised, making that word so firm that the gates of hell cannot even prevail against it. Our faith is built on this rock. Our names are etched in stone.

This word makes that difference, so your name, engraved on this rock, will stand.

Have you heard the story about the building of the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria, built nearly three centuries before Christ, 400 feet tall, designed by the architect Sostratos for Pharaoh Ptolemy II? Considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, it stood for 1,500 years. Apparently, when that massive structure was finished, on its rock base, Sostratos engraved his own name deep in that heavy stone supporting the whole thing. But he then plastered over that with mud and whitewash and then, on top of that plaster, in beautiful gold letters, he wrote the king’s name, so that Ptolemy could have the glory of that day.

Over the years, as the rain and waves beat on that base, the gold letters and plaster were washed away, and the name written in the rock beneath stood firm for a millennium and a half.

Through this word of God, a rock that crushes all mountains, through the gift of Baptism and the rock-solid promises of God, your names are written on this more enduring rock. They’re etched in stone in the book of life forever, all of you who "hear these words of his and put them into practice."

The word changes things. Come and hear it and then go and put it into practice. In Christ, Amen.


Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Full sermons and more information can be found at