“Where in the World Is God?” He Is Blessing You.

When someone asks, “How are you?” You will usually reply, “Fine” or “Good.”

If you ask me how I’m doing, I will reply, “Fantastic!” My dad will answer, “Better than I deserve.” I know one pastor who will always respond, “I’m living the dream!”

But what if you aren’t fantastic or fine? What if you feel like God is pounding on you because of what you deserve? What if your life seems more like a nightmare than a dream?

"Where in the World Is God?" He Is Calling You.

What did Jesus see in Simon Peter? Or in Peter’s brother, Andrew? Or James or John, the sons of Zebedee?

I suppose Jesus saw hardworking fishermen washing their nets on the shore.

But Jesus saw more in these four men. He saw men who were afraid of not catching enough fish to provide for their families or keep their fishing business afloat. He saw men who were keenly aware of their sinfulness and unworthiness. For after Jesus provides a miraculous catch of fish, Simon Peter fell at Jesus’ feet and cried out, “Go away from me, Lord! I am a sinful man” (Luke 5:8).

“Where in the World Is God?" He’s Releasing You.

Eleazar was in tears.

Eleazar was 10 years old when his family were ripped out of their home by King Nebuchadnezzar’s forces. He and his siblings, his parents, his cousins and neighbors who lived with him in Jerusalem were chained together and led on the 900-mile march from Jerusalem to Babylon.

Life in Babylon was surprisingly satisfactory. Eleazar was able to grow up, learn, work and socialize. Life seemed rather normal. But he never forgot that he and the rest of his people were strangers in a strange land. Though they weren’t in chains or in prison, they were still captives to their foreign invaders.

They were captives for 70 years.

“Where in the World Is God?” He Is Helping You.

The parents have tried for so long to have a child. Finally, they are excited to announce to their friends and family that God has blessed them with that child. Then months later comes the heart-wrenching news that the new mother suffered a miscarriage.

The father of four learns he has cancer. He seeks treatment and the Lord blesses the treatment, so the doctor’s report is that the father is now cancer-free. Then half a year later, the cancer comes back with a vengeance. This time, there is no cure.

"Where in the World Is God?" He Is Baptizing You.

Last Sunday before worship, I sat down next to 7-year-old Adelina. She told me, “I’m nervous about being baptized next week.” I teased her, “Well I’m not nervous. I’ve done this lots of times.”

Then I told her, “When you’re baptized next Sunday, I’m going to get your head wet … and then my eyes are going to get wet.”

This morning in the early service, Bob, who is in his 60s was baptized and confirmed. In the late service, Allicia was baptized and confirmed and her four children, Angel, Ayden, Grace, and Adelina, also received the cleansing bath of baptism over their heads.

Praise the Lord

Charlie had been in a serious car accident. While he was fortunate to escape life-threatening injury, when his vehicle crashed and the airbag deployed, he almost bit off his tongue. A surgeon was called to stitch the severed portion. But the doctor gave no guarantee. He said, “It may heal and you will speak again, or it may not.”

Several months went by in complete silence. Finally, the stitches were removed and people wondered, “What would be the first words Charlie would speak?” Cautiously, Charlie positioned his tongue and said, “Praise the Lord!”

The Twelve-Year-Old God Who Is Our Passover Lamb

“Did you see his face?” Mary bit back a sob as she continued trudging up the rocky slope.

Joseph shook his head. “Mary, every boy looks like that the first time they see the lamb slaughtered. There is a stark contrast with the red blood on the white wool. They don’t realize what death is yet. They don’t realize what it is to sacrifice a lamb. And it was his first Passover, Mary. Of course, he looked like that.”

“No. No. Joseph, it was something more than that. It was like … it was like he was seeing his own death.”

Joseph and Mary had spent the past seven days in Jerusalem celebrating the high festival of the Feast of the Passover. This feast celebrated the redemption of the people of Israel from Egypt and was observed in the spring of the year. It was the most important of the Jewish festivals and the law required all males to attend.

A Light in the Darkness

This afternoon will be very difficult. We always go on Christmas Day to Shelley’s parents’ home. Today will be the first Christmas without one of Shelley’s parents in that home. God called Shelley’s mom, Sue, home to heaven earlier this year.

Many of you know what this feels like. You remember decorating the tree with your dad. You recall baking cookies with your mom. You reminisce about making Christmas candies with your siblings. But now dad is gone. Your mom is in the nursing home. Your siblings have moved away.

Silent Night, Holy Night

On a cold Christmas Eve in the year 1818, a young priest named Joseph Mohr quickly walked from his home in the small town in Oberndorf, Austria to the neighboring village of Amsdorf. He was carrying a piece of paper – a poem he had written two years earlier.

He made his way to the schoolhouse, walked up the stairs and knocked on the door of the second floor apartment. He was greeted by his friend, Franz Gruber, the schoolmaster in Amsdorf and also the church organist.