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“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7 ESV) With these final words, Peter encourages us to put our trust in the God of all grace. Today at International Lutheran Church we are strengthened in our faith that we would be an encouragement to others.  

Peter’s words this morning come at just the right moment! “Cast all your anxiety on Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7 ESV) These words lift our spirits and remind us that we are not alone. God is with us in the midst of each and every challenging situation, fiery trial and moment of suffering. These words are Peter’s final encouragement to you and me to find our strength in Jesus whose reign is forever and ever.

Peter understood encouragement. Jesus encouraged Peter that very night when Peter would turn away in fear and deny his Lord before the next morning. Jesus’ words were meant to give him the courage to encourage others once Peter had returned to the Overseer of his faith – Jesus. But how can God’s word encourage us when we know that we too are so apt to fall and fail?

Peter’s answer is not found in his faith, but rather the object of his faith – Jesus. For under the mighty hand of God, Jesus suffered the punishment of murderers, thieves, evildoers and meddlers upon the cross, yet now is exalted above all thrones. Jesus, who was denied by both His own followers as well as the Father whom He loved, is now confessed as worthy to receive all honor praise and glory. Jesus lives! This, Peter says, is what gives us strength to face each and every day knowing that He cares for us. Though the devil growl like a prowling lion, we are called to stand firm in our faith established in the living One.

Just a few days ago (Thursday), the church around the world remembered our Risen Lord’s Ascension to the right hand of God the Father. Next Sunday, May 28, is Pentecost when we remember the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter who leads us into all truth. For a little while, we are again in the in-between time devoted to watching and praying. We have ten days to contemplate the reality of the “now and not yet” of our faith. As Christians we live in hope. But this hope is not wishful thinking. Our hope is the assurance of things unseen, and a life trusting in the God of all grace.

As we gather this day to hear God’s Word and receive the gift of His Body and Blood for the forgiveness of our sins and encouragement of our faith, we are reminded that He is our strength for this very hour so that we too would encourage others.

Pastor Carl