Everything Happens for a Reason

Worship Service for December 19, 2021

WELCOME

Good day, and welcome to the 4th and final Sunday in Advent worship presentation.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Thanks to all of you who participated in Friday’s Community Meal. And thank you to all you wonderful and generous people who so wonderfully gave to our Adopt-a-Family Mission Project.

Last Wednesday’s e-mail informed you that in order to safely accommodate up to 100 people, I was hoping to have two Christmas Eve Services. Thus far, 6 people have rsvp’d for the 4 pm and 7 for the 6 pm. I want to assume that more than that will attend. Please e-mail me at randykmeyer@hotmail.com to let me know which service you would prefer to attend.

CALL TO WORSHIP

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped Him snugly in strips of cloth and laid Him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

Luke 2:1-7

OPENING WORSHIP SONGS

O Come All Ye Faithful

Wade, John Francis/Oakeley, Frederick

O come all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him,
Born the King of angels.

O come let us adore Him,
O come let us adore Him,
O come let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Sing choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
O sing all ye citizens
Of heaven above.
Glory to God,
All glory in the highest.

O come let us adore Him,
O come let us adore Him,
O come let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Yea, Lord we greet Thee,
Born on Christmas morning;
Jesus to Thee be all glory giv’n.
Word of the Father
Now in flesh appearing.

O come let us adore Him,
O come let us adore Him,
O come let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

©Public Domain
CCLI License No. 1843349

Let’s Worship and Adore Him

arranged by Tom Fettke

Let’s worship and adore Him,
Let’s worship and adore Him,
Let’s worship and adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

For He alone is worthy,
For He alone is worthy,
For He alone is worthy,
Christ the Lord.

We’ll give Him all the glory,
We’ll give Him all the glory,
We’ll give Him all the glory,
Christ the Lord.

Arr.©1997 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music and Word Music (a div. of Word Music)
CCLI License No. 1843349

OPENING PRAYER

As we gather on the 4th Sunday in Advent, the Sunday preceding Christmas, we worship and adore You O Lord, for You are creator of all that is, maker of heaven and earth. We rejoice with all the Saints for You sent the Word made flesh, even Jesus, our Lord, God with us. As a result of worship today, we ask that You would strengthen our hold on the truth that You indeed are with us, through thick and thin, through good times and bad; encouraging us to put our whole trust in You, through Jesus, amen.

OFFERING

If you would like to send your offering through the mail, our mailing address is:

CrossPointe Community Church
P O Box 126
Chippewa Lake, OH 44215

Christmas is a special time for giving, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him wouldn’t perish, but would have eternal life” (John 3:16).

OFFERING/PRAYER SONG

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear

Sears, Edmund H./Willis, Richard S.

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old;
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold.
‘Peace on the earth good will to men,
From heaven’s all gracious King!’
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low;
Who toil along the climbing way,
With painful steps and slow.
Look now! For glad and golden hours,
Come swiftly on the wing;
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing.

For lo, the days are hastening on,
By prophets seen of old.
When with the ever circling years,
Shall come the time foretold.
When peace shall over all the earth,
Its ancient splendors fling;
And the whole world send back the song,
Which now the angels sing.

©Public Domain
CCLI License No. 1843349

MORNING PRAYER

Brad Winter

Dear Heavenly Father. We thank you for the wonderful morning you blessed us with and bringing us safely together.

Father, we pray that our hearts will be turned toward you as Christmas approaches. Don’t let us get caught up in the hustle and bustle and stress brought on by the world and retailers.

Please guide us to the real reason we celebrate Christmas and that is to celebrate the gifts of hope, peace, joy, and love, you sent to us in the flesh on that first Christmas.

God, you are our hope, refuge and strength in times of weakness and darkness.
And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

God, you gave us Jesus! He is our gift of hope and salvation. Born in the City of Bethlehem, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. All for the purpose of carrying the awful sins of this world and to be nailed to the cross.

God, you are the light of the world. The abundance of peace and joy only comes from knowing you. Inspire us as Christian’s to always keep a light on and illuminate the path so others will find you.

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From Angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, goodwill to men,
From heaven’s all-gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

Thank you, God for your priceless gift. In Jesus’ name Amen.

SCRIPTURE

When Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order of Abijah, and his wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old.

One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying.

While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”

Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.”

Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.”

Luke 1:5-20

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings,[d] favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.
“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; His Kingdom will never end!”
Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For the word of God will never fail.”
Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.

Luke 1:26-38

MESSAGE

Everything Happens for a Reason

Randy K’Meyer

The Christmas story contains several stories of people who experience undesired circumstances, but who in the end, discover that “everything happens for a reason.”

“Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations” (Luke 1:6). Great, wonderful, bully for those two; nothing undesired there!

“But,” the text continues, “they had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old” (Luke 1:7).

It helps to understand that in their culture, children were a sign of God’s blessing, and barrenness was held to be a sign of divine disfavor. According to Bible Commentator William Barclay:

The Jewish Rabbis said that seven people were excommunicated from God and the list began, ‘A Jew who has no wife, or a Jew who has a wife and who has no child.’” 1

So for many years, these Godly people wondered why God would withhold that which they so longed for.

What Zechariah and Elizabeth hadn’t counted on was the power of the Lord to intervene in human history for His good purposes. And so it was that their misfortune turned into a great joy as they became the proud parents of none other than the forerunner of the Messiah, John, the Baptist.

No wonder the text also says, “How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children” (Luke 1:25). Zechariah and Elizabeth learned in the end that everything happens for a reason; and I should add, for God’s good reason.

Mary was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph. In those days, to be engaged was the same as being married. So when she discovered that she was pregnant, she was in danger of being a divorced single mother or quite possibly stoned as punishment for infidelity under Jewish Law.

Can you imagine the stress she was under when she had to tell Joseph? And then the stress he was under as he had to decide how to proceed? But with the help of angels they persevered and delightfully discovered, that in the end, everything happens for a reason.

The experiences of these two couples that first Christmas are just two of many stories of God’s people who learned in the end that everything happens for a reason; for God’s good reason.

Everything happens for a reason.

Linda Saslow tells about how when her son Craig Saslow was 12 years old, they noticed one day that his right eye began to blink uncontrollably. After a couple days, she took him to a doctor who sent him to a specialist, who diagnosed Tourette Syndrome; uncontrollable urges and what the doctor referred to as ‘tics.’

After his blinking tic disappeared as abruptly as it started, it was replaced by continuous sniffing, then grunts, snorts, throat clearings and head twitches all of which weren’t very obtrusive. But when he began to emit a loud bark, he became the object of curious stares and cruel comments, leaving him overcome with shame.

Throughout his teen years, his mother writes, “My smart, popular, well-rounded teenage son became a recluse, escaping at every opportunity to the privacy of his bedroom where his body could release the uncontrollable yelps and bark with embarrassment. The years that should have been filled with the most carefree fun were instead ones of loneliness, confusion and anger over having a disorder that most people didn’t understand. My greatest challenge was trying to answer his most painful question” ‘Why me?’”

Then one day, they made an amazing discovery. They were having fun with a new video camera, recording Craig and his sister, who both loved movies, doing their renditions of favorite movie scenes. And when they watched the playback, they noted that all Craig’s tics were gone. They found out that when Craig was totally focused, his tics were suppressed.

As he continued to recite movie monologues, a dream began to form: to become an actor. To make a long story short, he enrolled at Cornell and took acting classes. After graduation, he moved to California and landed a roll as a recurring guest star on CSI. And how ironic: his character was a guy with Tourette’s.

His mother writes, “After so many years of trying to hide his tics, he had gotten a role on the most widely watched TV show in America.”

But mom’s biggest thrill when she heard her son say, “Thanks mom for repeating the same words to me so many times through the years, until I finally started to believe them. Now I know that you’re right; everything happens for a reason.” 2

Everything happens for a reason.

Admittedly, it is oftentimes difficult to see that.

A little boy was walking with his father along a country lane one dark night, holding a lantern. He said, “Dad, I’m a little scared, the light only reaches a little way.”

His father answered, “True my boy, but if you keep walking with the light, it will shine to the end of your journey.” 3

That’s what my first cousin’s family found out. He lives in Berea, and like me, has two girls and a boy. One of his daughters and her husband tried for several years to have a child of their own but to no avail. They went through a long invitro fertilization process but to no avail. Finally, they hired an attorney to help them through the adoption process. The attorney found a mother who agreed to allow my cousin’s daughter and husband to adopt her child. They were all so excited and began to prepare not only the baby’s room but more importantly, room in their hearts for a new family member.

But at the last minute, the birth mother disappeared with the child. They were all devastated; financially and emotionally empty. My aunt, who endured the depression and WWII, said it was the most difficult time in their family’s life.

Did I mention that they are a Christian family? And I am sure that they wondered where God was through it all. But the family rallied together to muster the funds to pursue another child.

And eventually, Daisy came into their lives. Daisy has become a very precious little girl to all of them. One day Daisy was in a race in which she excitedly told her mom, “I came in second.” Her mom is extremely competitive and had to resist the urge to say, “Second?” Daisy said, “I love to come in second because you get to see your friend win.”

A couple of months ago, the whole family was together to celebrate a birthday. My cousin noticed Daisy, who is now 6, leave the party and climb the stairs. After about 20 minutes she came back down with a piece of paper on which she had written, in her 6-year-old barely legible words, “I love to think about the goodness of the Lord.”

My cousin told me, “If that devastation hadn’t occurred, we would never have met Daisy.” They were reminded that everything happens for a reason; God’s good reason.

There are and will be dark times in all of our lives when God gives His followers only enough light to take the next step. And that is all that is needed. If we keep forging ahead, it will shine to the end of the journey.

The key to forging ahead, even in the midst of trying circumstances is TRUST.

Trusting that God is good and that “God causes everything to happen for the good to those who love God and who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

I know His timing doesn’t always align with ours. We want Him to work it out now. But God doesn’t operate according to our time schedule. So in the meantime, we are invited to TRUST that God knows what He is doing.

Sometimes when we are confronted with some negative aspect of life, we tend to ask the wrong question. The wrong question is this: “How could God bring any good out of this?” The truth is that we don’t know. If we did, we’d be God. But all we really need to know is that God knows. Just because we can’t see how God could tie up all the loose ends doesn’t mean He can’t. After all, remember the Bible calls God “The Potter.” What does a potter do? He takes a mess and turns it into a masterpiece. We can have peace in our hearts trusting that He knows.

The much-respected Catholic theologian, Henri Nouwen, wrote the following:

As long as we keep dividing our lives between events we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as God’s children. Let’s not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God. 4

We can confidently wait, trusting that God is at work behind the scenes working His will for our good.

Everything happens for a reason; for God’s good reason.

Jordan Baize lived in Bremen, Kentucky. I say lived because his house was destroyed in a tornado a week ago Friday. But his piano survived and in the midst of the rubble of his house, he was caught on camera by his sister playing, There’s Something About that Name.

Here’s an ABC news clip about it:

The clip ends with Jordan saying, “For me, I would say that my faith guides me through the good days and the bad days. And I would hate to think that I would have to walk through this storm or any other without Christ. he is the anchor of our lives and our family and I would encourage anyone who doesn’t have that kind of relationship to try and find it. I know that life is much sweeter when that’s in place.”

That’s exactly what Bill Butterworth discovered. After going through a recent divorce, Bill was avoiding Christmas. What had always been the highlight of the year for him had become an awkward occasion of negotiating ‘who had whom,’ from ‘when to when’ and how to best handle the minutiae of keeping Christmas special to the kids when inside he was a broken-hearted wreck. A friend of his encouraged him to go to a church, but on the Sunday before Christmas, he didn’t want to go to church. But he was alone and with nothing else to do he went in a bah-humbug mood.

As he sat and listened to others sing the carols, he wondered what the preacher would say, sarcastically thinking you can only get so many miles out of a baby born in Bethlehem.

But the preacher didn’t read from Luke 2; instead he read from Luke 4, where the grown up Jesus is quoting Isaiah the prophet:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.

Isaiah 61:1

As the preacher read, Bill suddenly felt as if he were the only one there; especially as he focused on the words, “bind up the brokenhearted.”

The preacher said, “Is this year a difficult Christmas for you? Are you broken-hearted over a circumstance that has left you in great pain?”

Tears began to flow as Bill knew it was a message of God for him.

The preacher continued, “If you’re here in deep pain, I invite you to leave your burden here in the manger. For remember, Jesus has come to mend that which is torn inside of you. He has come to bind up your broken heart.”

And Bill writes, “I don’t remember much of what happened after that, except that in my soul, I gave Christ all the pain my crisis had created. It wasn’t the kind of thing that was accompanied by harps, strings, or chills up the spine, but it was an awesomely moving encounter for me. … I was so grateful that I made this discovery at what could have been the most awful time of the year.” 5

What discovery? Why, that everything happens for a reason, of course.

So this Christmas, let us take heart that whatever we might be experiencing, God is not only with us, He is also working behind the scenes to make everything happen for one of His good reasons. And let that truth lead us to the place where we can say to God what Mary said to the angel: “May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38 NASB).

PRAYER IN RESPONSE TO THE MESSAGE

[I encourage you to pray as you feel led by the Spirit of God].

CLOSING SONG

Joy to the World

Watts, Isaac/Handel, George Frederick

Joy to the world! The Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King.
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n and heav’n and nature sing.

Joy to the earth! The Savior reigns;
Let men their songs employ.
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground.
He comes to make His blessings flow,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace.
And makes the nations prove.
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders of His love.

©Public Domain
CCLI License No 1843349

BENEDICTION

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways! For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.

Romans 11:33, 36

1 Williams Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series, Luke, [London, England: Westminster Press, © 1975], Page

2 Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Amy Newmark, “Everything Happens for a Reason,” Chicken Soup for the Soul, Think Positive, [Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC, © 2010] Pages 289-292.

3 Sunday School Times.
http://www.moreillustrations.com/Illustrations/light%202.html

4 Henri J. M. Nouwen, Catholic priest, mystic, and writer (1932-1996)
Henri J. M. Nouwen, Bread for the Journey, [New York: HarperOne,
© 1996] page 12.

5 Stories for a Kindred Heart, compiled by Alice Gray and Barbara Baumgardner, “Turning Point,” [Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Press,
© 2000], Pages 293-295.

Randy K'Meyer

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