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The children of the promise are counted as offspring. (Romans 9:8b ESV)  Paul reminds us all that we who are in Christ are connected to Him through the promise that is God’s Word. Just as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were born of and in God’s promise, so we are born of the same promise to which gave them life. This truth fills our lives with His Spirit and calls us to make known this message throughout all of God’s creation.

Here at International Lutheran Church we have been “On the Roman Road.” While last week we came to the pinnacle of God’s Word, that “nothing can separate us from the love of God which is ours in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:39 ESV), still we also realize that not all believe. For Paul this reality was extremely disturbing and troubling. Yet Paul saw that this means our lives in Christ are also based on the promise and Word of God, and nothing else.

There are things that we see and experience in this life that are particularly disturbing. There are things and pains that shouldn’t be. Paul saw the fact of his fellow kinsmen’s rejection of the Messiah as saddening. Jesus looked on the crowds of people following Him in the desolate places as undeniably moving and painful. Yet this place and this situation is where we sometimes find ourselves – desolate and empty places. But here in lies the mystery: nowhere are we removed from the promises of God. His Word is the very hope of the world – the glue that keeps us in Him.

As an example of this we read in Matthew 14 that Jesus goes into a desolate place because of the death of John. Yet, Jesus is filled with anguish at the sight of the crowds lost and helpless. What can He give that would feed them, water them, care for them? He gives His very life. He suffers on the tree, He enters into our most desperate place of all, our own separation from God for us. Unlike Paul or Moses who wished their death might bring the inclusion of their kinsman, it is only Jesus, the Promise made flesh and bone who can carry that cross and effect that action on our behalf. Our desolation is justified. His is truly redeeming. Like water in the desert, or a small lunch blessed to feed the thousands, Jesus alone is Lord of all. He alone is praised forever more.  He alone is the great ‘Amen.’

God is sending you and me into desolate places everyday where we will pain with Him at the lost condition of our world. He doesn’t do this so that we would lie in anguish but that we would see the power of His promise alive in our lives, in our world and in the desperate and lonely places we find ourselves. As we join in worship today and gather to hear His Word, we are encouraged to share this Good News wherever He sends us!

Pastor Carl