Sunday, January 27, 2008

God Never Answers Prayer, Why Should I Pray?
No Video This Week

God Never Answers Prayer Why Should I Pray?

Intro.: I have heard two very simple answers to today's question.

  1. The first is mine – because we are commanded to.

  2. The second is a paraphase from a member of the congregation – I know what the answer is if I don't.

  3. But, in some way, those answers are too simple.

  4. Sometime it does seem that God does not answer prayer - how am I to understand it all?


Trans: I know that many of you have been believers for many years.

  1. I was amazed to learn that the disciples had the same kind of questions.

  2. They lived, worked, talked with Jesus for three years. But it was only halfway through that time that they finally turned to Jesus and asked that question, “Lord, teach us to pray.

  3. I want to also ask Jesus a question - “What do I need to know about unanswered prayer?”

T.S. Let me suggest four answers that we might be hear if we were to ask that question.

  1. Maybe God doesn't answer prayers

    1. I expect there have been times in all of our lives when it seems that God does not answer our prayers.

    2. And then it becomes easy to conclude that God doesn't answer prayer.

(Ill.) Let me give you an example in my life when I faced this kind of crisis. It happened about a year before we moved to New York. We were living in Iowa and were going through a minor financial crisis – appliances were breaking, the car was going haywire, one of our kids was have a medical problem. Our credit card was maxed out – and I saw no way out. The local Farm Bureau had people on there staff to help with developing a budget and for help in rescheduling payments. But they really did not have any quick solution to the problem in which we found ourselves. I really did not see any solution to our problem – God was not taking care of us. God was not answering our prayers.

    1. It really is an easy conclusion to come to – but it creates a problem, because if God does not answer our prayers, it makes scripture a liar.

    2. For example the words of Isaiah “Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.” (Is 58:9)

    3. And not just scripture, because if God does not answer prayer, it also makes Jesus a liar. You will remember the words of Jesus -

      So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Lk 11:9-13)

    4. As believers, it would be difficult to conclude that God does not intend to answer prayer.

  1. Maybe God doesn't answer your prayers

    1. After all, God does treat each of us differently. We would really expect him to.

    2. So maybe he answers my prayers (after all, I am a pastor), but not yours.

(Ill.) We have all seen the unfairness of life. One humorist wrote, “Life is unfair. I lost my car keys at a ball game and never found them. I lost my sunglasses at the beach and never found them. I lost my socks in the washing machine and never found them. I lost three pounds on a diet—I found them and five more.”1 Yep, unfairness is part of life.

    1. But if God showed that kind of unfairness it creates an even more difficult situation. You see, you would have no way to know what promises apply to each of us. No the promises of scripture – whether they are about prayer, or any other aspect of life, are for all of us.

  1. Maybe God doesn't answer all your prayers

    1. Now, that might be entirely possible.

    2. Scripture has instructions for us to pray. We don't have time to do a complete discussion of what effective prayer takes, but we can look at one of them.

    3. Effective prayer is a prayer of faith. James, Jesus' brother, writes, “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” Matthew 21:22 also makes it pretty clear: “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.

(Ill.) The story is told of a time when a great Scotch preacher prayed in the morning service for rain. As he went to church in the afternoon his daughter, said, “Here is the umbrella, Papa.”

“What do we need it for?” he asked.

“You prayed for rain this morning. Don’t you expect God to send it?” his daughter replied.

They carried the umbrella, and while they came home they were glad to take shelter under it from the drenching storm. Such should be our faith when we pray, just like that little child’s—with no doubt, and expecting an answer.2

    1. Prayer is required for effective prayer. Maybe God does not answer all our prayers, not because he does not keep his promises, but we don't know how to pray.

  1. God answers all your prayers

    1. He does not always answer them in the way we expect

    2. He does not always answer them at the time we want

    3. Let me illustrate from the life of one the great preachers of the 19th century.

(Ill.) Some years ago, a young graduate reported to a law office for training or apprenticeship. The senior lawyer who hired him quickly indoctrinated him in the office routine. Then the young lawyer sat at his desk and carried on this conversation with himself. “What are you going to do when you finish your apprenticeship?” “Hang out my shingle and practice law, of course!” “What then?” “Why, make a lot of money!” “What then?” “When I get rich I shall retire.” “What then?” “Well, I will die.” “What then?” His whole body trembling, Charles G. Finney rushed out of the office and ran to a park some few hundred yards distant. He remained there in prayer, vowing that he would not return to his office or to his room until he had settled his life’s work. He saw himself as he was—selfish, ambitious, sinful. And he gave himself to the Lord for Him to use. Leaving the park, Finney stepped forth, in faith in God, to a life of usefulness rarely paralleled in the last two centuries.3

Conclusion: Earlier I told of a time when finances were building my faith in the effectiveness of prayer.

  1. Job change

  2. Father dying

  3. $25000 cash from my dad

  4. Stayed in place – last visit was not about trouble but about investment. My first lesson in mutual funds.

  5. God does answer prayer.


Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses, As we also have forgiven

those who trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Matthew 6:9-13

1Streiker, L. D. (2000). Nelson's big book of laughter : Thousands of smiles from A to Z (electronic ed.) (241). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

2Green, M. P. (1989). Illustrations for Biblical Preaching : Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

3AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Bible Is So Old, Why Should I Believe It?
No Video This Week

The Bible Is So Old, Why Should I Believe It?

Intro.: I have decided to start a new religion.

  1. Don't panic, I just wanted to get your attention and to set up the discussion that follows.

  2. Now, if I really wanted to start a new religion, I would want to start it based on one of these two book: The Bible The Complete Works of William Shakespeare

  3. I mean, there are lots of people who love one or the other or both books. There is already a well established audience from which to draw the members of my new religion. And think of the parallels: Translated into innumerable languages Studied for centuries Shakespeare is 1600 years newer-probably more like us

  4. We can probably find a dozen more reasons to base a faith – notice, I did not say “my faith” - on Shakespeare's works.

  5. I would like to spend the next few minutes together exploring why it makes sense to find support for our faith in the Bible.


Trans:Why is question of scripture so important anyhow?

  1. After all, faith is “the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.” So why not just rely on faith to tell us that we can use the Bible as our scripture.

  2. But faith does not mean that there is nothing supporting what we believe in. Take the atom for example – there is a great deal of evidence that they exist, but no one has every seen one. The picture we occasionally see of atoms are not atoms, but, rather, are pictures of the effects of atoms on their environment. But even though we have never seen them, scientist around the world base their work on the existence – it is faith, but faith based on evidence.

  3. Returning to a moment to the question of basing the truths that define our faith on the Bible or the works of Shakespeare – there are two questions that must be answered

    1. First, do the documents that we have represent the work of the original author. In case of the Bible it is a collection of works by about 40 authors. Does our Bible represent their original work?

    2. Second, given that the documents are accurate, we also must determine whether those words are really God's word – or just some collected works from one or more authors.

T.S. These two questions will form the basis for our discussion over the next few minutes.

  1. Is the Bible we use today an accurate representation of what the authors originally penned?

    1. The Bible is unique. Josh McDowell points out a number of points that make the Bible unique:

      1. Written over a 1500 year span with the newest book written about 100 years ago.

      2. Written by over 40 authors from every walk of life – kings, generals, peasants, poets, musicians, fisherman, tax collectors, scholars, statesmen, and shepherds

      3. The Bible was written in some very different places – in the wilderness, in dungeons, behind prison walls, while traveling, on while forced to live away from home on an island in the middle of the Mediterranean.

      4. Written in different moods – some authors are experiencing the heights of joy, or the depths of sorrow and despair, written during times of certainty and during times of doubt and confusion.

      5. Written in three different language – mostly Hebrew and Greek, but the book of Daniel was written in Aramaic.1

    2. But given all that – it all points to a single God, a God that loves mankind and made provision for them. They all point to a single God that loves you and had made provision for you to be part of His family throughout eternity.

    3. But do these documents represent the original words of the authors. Let me give you some facts.

        Like many ancient works, we don't have the original documents. But there are far more documents available to support the reliability of the scriptures than of similarly dated material. For example, there are ancient 643 copies of Homer's Iliad – but the earliest of these was put to paper 400 years after the Iliad was written. But take the NT there are over 5300 ancient copies of the NT and earliest copy was written within 50 years of its original writing. And even the newest of these 5300 copies was written within 300 years of the events they describe. The point is this, compared to other ancient documents, we know more about the composition of the NT than any other piece of literature from its time.2

    4. Amazingly, even for the most liberal scholar, the text of the scriptures are not in question. In fact, I remember being told that in all of the NT, there are maybe 50 verses which are in doubt – and none of these are significant as we begin to understand our theology.

    5. As you read your Bible, you can be assured that what you read is what the authors intended for you to read.

    6. Thus we are led to the second question ...

  2. Is the Bible the word of God?

    1. This is really a 21st century question – the early church just accepted the fact that God was speaking through the scriptures. The early church leaders quote the scriptures over 36000 times. There was no doubt in their mind.

    2. Timothy may have summed it up best when he wrote, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

(Ill.) You may have heard the comment made by many - “But what about all those contradictions?” I first met Dr. Gleason Archer at California State University Sacramento – I was enrolled in an Introduction to the Old Testament course taught on state college campus. The text we used was by Dr. Gleason Archer. Dr. Archer was on the seminary faculty at seminary – and while I was there he wrote another book entitled The Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties. Having worked through as many contradictions as he could locate, he writes, “There is a good an sufficient answer in Scripture itself to refute every charge that has ever been leveled against it. But this is to be expected from the kind of book the Bible asserts itself to be, the [words] of the infallible, inerrant Word of the Living God.”3

Conclusion: Let me conclude with this – this sermon has may not have touched any of you where you live. But if I have done my job, it will prepare you for next week, next month, or next year.

  1. John Scotus Eriugena, a believer who lived at the end of the first millenium, wrote “The authority of Scripture must be followed in all things, for in it we have the truth as it were in its secret haunts.”4

  2. This week as you pick up the Bible, you are not reading just any book. You are not merely picking up a devotional book. You are not picking up a novel. You are picking up the Word of God. Pick it up this week and let it speak to you.


1McDowell, Josh (1999). The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.



4John Scotus Erigena in Water, M. (2000). The new encyclopedia of Christian quotations (117). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.

Monday, January 14, 2008

If God Exists – Why Do I Hurt So Much?
No Video this week

If God Exists – Why Do I Hurt So Much?

Intro.: Let me give you a lesson in sermon preparation.

  1. I did not write today's sermon this morning.

  2. In fact, I did not even begin to write the sermon yesterday

  3. This morning's sermon got its start last November as I sat down one day and began to look at my preaching schedule.

  4. I have already told you that the Advent series that we just finished was chosen real late in the game. As my wife and I worked through the first few chapters of a Bible Study we were completing.

  5. But this weeks sermon had its beginning in the same time period – it was the middle of November and I sat and looked at the calendar for 2008. I would be returning from the Congress on Evangelism, and Lent would start on Ash Wednesday, February 6. That gave me four Sundays before starting my Lenten series.

  6. And it hit me that we have spent a lot of time looking at the easy parts of our faith, but that maybe we could spend some time looking at the hard parts. Over the next few weeks that is what I propose doing.

  7. I would like to also make these messages an opportunity for you to invite those that might be asking these same difficult questions of you or of God.


Trans: There is something else about today's sermons that make it unique.

  1. It is not too uncommon for someone from either this service or the other service to come up after and say, “Thank you pastor, that is just what I needed to hear.”

  2. It is good to know that God has used me to deliver a message that has directly touched someones life.

  3. But this weeks is different. You see, I don't know if what follows is for most of you, but I know that it does hit Sandra and I squarely in the eyes.

  4. And if it is so perfect for us, maybe, just maybe, it will apply to others as well. I hope so.

T.S. The title of today's sermon, “If God Exists, Why Do I Hurt So Much”, really consists of two important and very real questions.

  1. The first question is “If God exists – but does he?”

    1. I, like many of you, have sat through philosophy classes where professors demonstrated the most common proofs of God – and most professors would then show how those proofs may have their flaws.

(Ill.) For example, there is what is called the argument from Design. The argument goes something like this – if you found a clock that kept reasonably accurate time, you would wonder where it came from. And then when you took off the back cover, you would seem an amazing set of knobs, gears, and springs. Now you might not know how it worked, but you would be convinced that it could not be mere chance that produced that produced that clock. Similarly, as we look at our world – whether it be a glimpse of the universe or it be a look at the human body or it be a look at the smallest molecule and its atoms, how could we conclude that all these things occurred by chance. Surely enormously complex mechanism that defines our world must have have been designed by a being - and we will call that being God.1

    1. I recently was glancing through a book that include nearly 20 different ways to prove God – unfortunately, I did not buy the book and I do not remember the title.

    2. But there is a problem – God is not a proof.2

    3. God is not a logical argument or a syllogism that can be summed up in two or three quick sentences.

    4. My friends, God is a person – a living being capable of knowing things, desiring things, of creating things, and loving things. He is alive – this is how Anthony Destefano describes it in his book Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To.

    5. No where does scripture try to prove God's existance – it is just assumed that he is always present, all powerful, and all knowing. This is the God we serve and the God that wants to know us.

    6. And that is where it starts – with a relationship. Our question, “If God exists ...” only make sense if we have a relationship with the living, caring, loving God who created our universe. Because once we ask the question, we have already answered the question.

    7. Both the Old Testament and the gospel of John start out the same way, “In the beginning, God ...” So, if “in the beginning, God ...” --

  1. Why do I hurt so much?” - that is the second question.

    1. Somehow it is easy for us to come to the conclusion that since God does exist, then life should be a breeze: no problems, no headaches.

    2. Let me ask you a question, would you prefer to be a puppet whose every action is controlled – as if connected to a string – or live a life that you have control over, even if it sometimes involves making mistakes. I expect, given the choice you would prefer the freedom.

    3. Yet freedom entails mistakes. And mistakes inherently lead to discomfort and pain.

(Ill.) Let me give you some examples. If I am a carpenter and hit my finger with a hammer – it hurts. It is not punishment, it is not retribution, it is not revenge. It is the natural consequence of my not using the hammer correctly.

    1. I should not be surprised that there is pain in my world – after all, we are already broken people. People that have experienced God's wonderful, forgiving, supporting grace, but broken people none the less.

(Ill.) There was a conversation between the great artists Renoir and Matisse. At the time, Matisse was Renoir’s young student. Renoir suffered from terrible arthritis. It was very painful for him to paint. He had to hold his brush between his thumb and index finger. And as he painted, students often heard him crying out in pain. On one such occasion, Matisse asked the old master, “Why do you go on if it hurts so much?” And Renoir answered, “The pain passes, but the beauty remains.”3

    1. Pain – be it physical, emotional, or spiritual – is real. It may come from a variety of sources – but regardless of its source God will use it to shape up and form us into what he wants us to be.

    2. You are the piece of art being painted by God – you are a piece of clay being molded being shaped into what he wants. Romans 9:21 puts it this way, “...has the potter no right over His clay, to make from the same lump one piece of pottery for honor and another for dishonor?

Conclusion: Close your eyes for a minute.

  1. I don't know what pain you carry today – but God does

  2. Silence yourself for a minute – allow God to touch you where you hurt

  3. Breath out the pain, know that God is able to take it and lighten the load

  4. Breath in – allow the holy spirit to reach you where you are and feel God's power, available to you now and wherever you may be.

Listen to the words of Jesus:

             “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”



2DeStefano, Anthony (2007). Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To: Divine Answers To Life's Most Difficult Problems. New York: Doubleday.

3AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Sweet Singer at the Congress on Evangelism

The Sweet Singer at the Congress on Evangelism

He was here, he was here. He was born over 300 years ago, but he was here. Charles Wesley had center stage this afternoon at the United Methodist Congress on Evangelism. And he brought along some guests. Who could forget his brother John whom we saw as they grew up together in the Epworth parsonage. Of course Charles followed his brother to America, before returning to England after six months. Back at Epworth we met Charles’ father Samuel and his mother Suzanna.

And we were there when Charles experienced his conversion and a few days later when John felt his heart strangely warmed.

For ninety minutes we listened to Charles’ testimony told in his words and songs as performed in the one act play The Sweet Singer by S. T. Kimbrough. The words and music of Charles Wesley’s hymns took on new meaning as we better understood the context under which they were written. Praise God for this man and his contribution to the life of the church 300 years ago as well as today.

Yours because His,

Pastor Floyd

Thursday - UM Congress on Evangelism

Thursday - UM Congress on Evangelism

Grace Imathiu shared with us this morning during the Bible Study hour. Her message was from John 11 - the raising of Lazarus. Grace reminded us that Lazarus was not one of the great early leaders of the church. He wrote nothing. None of his words are recorded in scripture. He did nothing memorable. Yet, he is called a friend of Jesus.

Though I may do nothing memorable, though I may say nothing memorable (who remembers what I preached on last Sunday - it is a trick question; I did not preach last Sunday), though I may write nothing of significance, I can still be call a friend of God, a friend of Jesus.

Yours because His,

Pastor Floyd

Thursday, January 03, 2008

UM Congress on Evangelism Has Started

UM Congress on Evangelism Has Started

The first night of the UM Congress on Evangelism is over. I really appreciated the music this evening - given that it is the 300th anniversary of Charles Wesley's birth and we are in the city that he and his brother John made their homebase when they visited the US, it seemed appropriate to find that the music focused on the lyrics and tunes that Charles finally gave to the church. The point was made by Bishop Mike Watson that, inspite of the difficulties that the Wesleys had in America, God did use their time here to make them very aware that they were missing something - and when they found it, they found their hearts, and their worlds, and ours, strangly warmed. I also found it of interest because my plans for the lenten season. Isn't God grand.

The speaker for the Opening Worship was Bishop James Swanson. A dynamic and inspiring speaker he shared much of his testamony during his message. Converted after hearing the very simple message that Jesus loved him. That morning on the way home from church, he ask his mother about what it meant and they stopped on a corner and prayed. He clearly made the point that it was because of that day, that he was able to stand in front of us this day.

Loosely based on Acts 1, Bishop Swanson's message noted that we miss what scripture has to say because we are too often more concerned about what it means to us (I.E. me), than what it means to God. As a preacher, I can turn that around slightly and say I can become too concerned about what it says to my people, rather than what it means to God. (Ouch!)

Bishop Swanson spoke how sad it was that the disciples still did not get it. The resurrection had occurred, and they were asking if God would restore the Kingdon. They had spent three years living with Jesus, they had spent three years observing Jesus, they had spent three years listening to all He had to say - and they did not get it. And Jesus makes it clear that would not get it until they had received power (Acts 1:8). If we want to be Jesus' witnesses, it must start with receiving power.

Tomorrow will be the first full day of the congress - I have chosen to attend Bishop James Swanson's workshop on "Preaching for Conversion" and Joe D. Connelly's workshop on "Living by Kingdom Principles - Moving from Career to Calling". God will bless for sure.

Advent (2007) IV: Mary and the Shepherds
Watch the Video

Mary and the Shepherds

Intro.: I ran across this poem earlier this week.

While shepherds careful vigil kept o'er lambs in fields of green.

The sky took on a brilliant glow and lit the grassy scene.

In dread they looked upon the star that rose anew that night.

Then angels came to calm their fears and tell of the heavenly light.

In word and song they shared the news of the babe who was their king.

They sang of peace and love and joy, and the good will he would bring.

The keepers of the flocks arose and followed the heavenly beam,

But not to gleaming palace walls as it would surely seem.

It led them to an earthen stall where cattle and goats were kept.

And in the manger soft and warm, the little Jesus slept.

Tears filled up their tired eyes and ran down wind burned cheeks.

They had found the promised one, for whom the world still seeks.

Though they were watchers of the flocks, tenders of lamb and ewe,

He was the keeper of God's flock, HE was the shepherd true.1

I want to spend our time together looking at the shepherds response to Jesus' birth.

Read: Luke 2:8-20


T.S. The story of the shepherds can be easily divided into a three act play.

  1. Act I - The Shepherds and the Angel

    1. We all know the story of the shepherd sitting out in the field watching their sheep. They probably had tents or lean-tos to protect them from the elements. But there were wolves and foxes in the area that ate small animals – like sheep. The other common danger that they faced was bandits – who would steal the sheep to add to their own. To protect them, the shepherds would take three hour shifts to watch the sheep and be sure they were not attacked.2

    2. This night started out like all the others – but we all know that it did not end up that way. It started out with an angel – in fact the angel was not even so startling. He just appeared. Some translations suggest that the angels appeared suddenly – but the Greek has no suggestion of that. It would seem to me that something else was occurring.

(Ill.) The other night Sandra and I were driving home after buying our Christmas dinner. The cars were slowing down – very strange. And then Sandra looked to her right. She couldn't believe her eyes. Out there in the field were – cows? Why would any farmer leave his cows out on a night like this – it was horrible. How could they do that to those poor animals. And those cows, they were awfully skinny – no, wait, they are not cows. Those were deer – there must have been 20 of them out there in the field. It did look strange – but it also was amazing.

    1. I think the appearance of the angel was a similar experience – here was this man, but it was only as they spent time in the angel's presence they began to realize that this was no ordinary man – it was a messenger from God.

    2. And something happened – scripture says “the glory of the Lord shone around them.” Did you hear that, it “shown around them”, it was not the one angel – it was the shepherds. And the shepherds responded – they were afraid. No it was worse than that, the Greek uses two related words adjacent to each other – the root of both words is phobos. Phobos is the root of phobia – fear. Together the two Greek words are saying that they were “fearfully afraid”. They were, to quote the NIV, “terrified”.

    3. But it was not just the angels presence that is surprising, it is also his message: Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christa the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.

(Appl.) The angel brought good news – not just for Israel, not just for Christians, not just for evangelicals, not just for Americans, not just for republicans. The angel brought good news for the whole world.3

  1. Act II - The Shepherds and the Angels

    1. And that is the end of Act I.. Act II opens on the same hillside, but there is a change. Rather than there being a single angel, there is a host of angels.

    2. No longer are they speaking about a little baby lying in a manger – but a God who has a concern for the whole world. We are seeing a picture of worship – and like our worship it is two directional.

    3. Worship begins by giving praise to God. Even the angels begin by praising God. “Glory to God in the highest.” Worship is not primarily about us – but it is looking at God as He is.

(Ill.) I really appreciate Judaism - their faith is full of legends and stories. The Jews have one legend that when Abraham started on his journeys he saw the stars in the heavens and said, “I will worship the stars.” But ere long the stars set. Then Abraham saw the constellations—the Pleiades and the rest of them—and he said, “I will worship the constellations.” But the constellations also set. Then Abraham saw the moon sailing high in the heavens and he said, “I will worship the moon.” But the moon also vanished when her season was over. Then Abraham saw the sun in all his majesty, coming out of his chamber like a bridegroom and rejoicing as a strong man to run a race. But when the day was spent, he saw the sun sink on the western horizon. Stars, constellations, moon, and sun—all were unworthy of his worship, for all had set and all had disappeared. Then Abraham said, “I will worship God, for he abides forever.4

    1. But worship is also when God meets us. The angels say it this way: and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.

(Ill.) About 150 years after Christ the church was spreading throughout the known world. One of the early church was a man by the name of Irenaeus. Irenaeus, though born in Turkey, lived his later years in what is now France. Irenaeus was one of leading defenders for the divine inspiration of the New Testament.5 But Irenaeus also understood that in worship we had to see God: The glory of God is a living man; and the life of man consists in beholding God.6

    1. As we meet here each Sunday, come to give glory to God and ready to meet Him and experience His present.

  1. Act III – The Shepherds and Jesus

    1. And then we move into Act III. But the setting has changed. The shepherds are moving into Bethlehem to see the child.

    2. As I read this story, something caught my eye. Back on that field, the shepherds were told where the Messiah would be born, they they were told something of the circumstances, but they were never told to go and visit Him. But they had been waiting – they knew of the promised Messiah and when they heard it had been accomplished, they wanted to see.

(Ill.) I have told many of you that I went through a very dark time in my Christian life that nearly destroyed my walk with God and my family. I don't think I ever told you about that first Christmas. After going to Family Camp twice during the preceding summer my life was beginning a dramatic turnaround. I looked forward to that next Christmas like none other. For the first time in my life I had experienced God's grace in forgiveness in ways that I could never imagine till that time. And I wanted tell everyone that I knew what I learned. And it was those events that began that brought me here 12 years later. And it wasn't just me ...

    1. The shepherd went to visit the manger – and when they had seen God, they were changed. They could not keep quiet about what they had seen – they spread the word.

    2. But Mary has different response. She treasures all that happened in her heart. It had been a very busy nine months – and now she had a son for whom she and Joseph were responsible. She did not understand it all, she could not see the future. But she would wait for 33 years before she saw the end of it – the death and resurrection of her son. The death and resurrection of the Son of God. And she could stop pondering – because she would understand.


Act III is not yet over. We are living it out as servants of the Lord of Lords. Welcome to the cast. And as you play your part, I hope that you experience some of the miracle of Christmas.



2Barnes, Albert (2007). Barnes' Notes on the New Testament. WORDsearch Corp.

3Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson's Application Commentary (301). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

4Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.


6Water, M. (2000). The new encyclopedia of Christian quotations (1139). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.

Traveling to Savannah - the UM Congress on Evangelism

As most of my parishioners know, there will be no sermon for December 30 or January 6 - as my wife and I have travelled to Savannah, GA, for the UM Congress on Evangelism. This is our fifth year for attending this annual event and we have always found it be a refreshing time. This is true both personally and spiritually.

As my wife is a librarian and I am a pastor, we both love books. And there are plenty of books here to be found. I have already purchased one book that will parallel my sermon series for the new year - beginning January 13. I also found a CD that I may or may not use for my lenten series, "Hymns We Love and The Lessons They Give Us". The CD is a set of eight film clips of a musical based on Charles Wesley's life. I am looking forward to using it and hoping that I can use it as part of the lenten services.

We have arrived safely - and will stay put till we leave on Saturday afternoon. We will have 2-1/2 days to return home, with one stop in Raleigh, NC, and one stop in Wilkes Barre, PA, to see our son and his wife.

I have learned one lesson on this trip - God has a better set of directions than a GPS. As we found our way to our hotel last night, the GPS had us get off the Interstate one exit too early - and there was no Red Roof Inn to be found. If I follow God's way, I will never get lost. Now, if I can just remember that tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after.... Well, you get the point.

Yours because His,

Pastor Floyd