FROM YOUR PASTOR                                                   

Thank You, Lynn Mercer!

Some there are who serve and serve and serve with steadfast loyalty and good spirits. We are blessed to have such a person in Lynn Mercer. Last week, Lynn completed thirty years of service as the church’s office manager. She does so many things that keep the church operating smoothly and keep the minister out of trouble. (Lynn has an uncanny ability to know what I have overlooked or forgotten and remind me. She “bails me out” about once a week!) Please add your voice to mine in telling Lynn what a joy it is to have her as part of our church family and staff.

Darkness to Light’s “Stewards of Our Children”

I hope you will consider joining me in completing the two-hour course on preventing child abuse. I decided to take the course, “Stewards of our Children,” as an act of gratitude to God for the joy I have in the children of our church family. I think of it as an act of worship which offers love to God by doing a loving thing for his children. We have no greater resource or joy than our children and protecting them should be foremost in our minds. You can complete the course on line (D2L.org), or on a Saturday morning at the church. That date will be announced soon.

                                                                                                      Dr. Chip                                                                                                                                                                                                  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

May 19, 2019 Sermon

WHEN GOD SAYS, “NO”

II Samuel 12:20-23            Luke 22:39-46


Our subject today is intercessory prayer. Our house of faith is built on a foundation a few simple beliefs: that God knows our name, God intervenes in our lives, and that God's will for us is good. Because of these beliefs, we constantly pray for our own lives and the lives of others.

Intercessory prayer is a vital part of our faith. We petition God for events and individuals all the time. My father has told me that he prays for each of the children and grandchildren by name every morning. When I was a child and my family was traveling, Grandmother Allen would say, "I've just worried the Lord to death about you today." Moreover, when God answers our prayers, there is rejoicing. Like the Psalmist, we praise God, "Thou hast given me my heart's desire/ And not withheld the request of my lips." But what about those times when the answer is, "No?" What are we to think when God answers, "Request denied."

This story of David is a perfect example of what intercessory ought to be. David lays aside his royal robes, ignores matters of state, and applies himself to prayer, bold, whole-hearted prayer. For seven days, he wears the rags of repentance and eats nothing at he pleads with God. However, the answer is, "No." The child dies.

As a pastor, I can tell you how most people react when God refuses their prayer requests. They first experience anger. They feel God has somehow betrayed them, that he didn't respond. (When someone tells me their prayers weren't answered, I understand that to mean they haven't accepted the answer they were given.) The anger then turns into confusion. Maybe God isn't who I thought he was. All too often, the next thing that happens is that confusion settles into guilt. “What have I done that God won't answer my prayers? I must be unworthy.”

This is not a new problem. The Bible records several times when prayers are denied.

• Moses begged God to let him enter the Promised Land, but God refused. Moses died on the east bank of the Jordan.

• David prays for the life of his innocent child, but God says, "No."

• Paul tells us that he prayed three times that his "thorn" might be removed, but it never was.

• Jesus knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed, "Let this cup pass from me,' but within a day, the darkness of the tomb and death enclosed him.

When God says, "No," what are we to think? There are several possibilities that we might consider. I want to review some of them quickly starting with the most obvious reasons and moving toward the more mysterious.

1. The first possibility is simply that the prayer is unworthy. When we are in a bind, we are bad about asking God to bail us out or to do something simply for our advantage. The unprepared student prays, "Please let it snow tomorrow." The errant golfer prays, "O Lord, please let that ball float." (I won't call any names.) And the gambler prays, "O Lord, don't let them beat the spread." Some of our prayers are unworthy, selfish, shallow. We spend far too much time jamming the lines with prayers of personal privilege.

"Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?

My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.

Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,

So Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?

Some of you will remember the song sung by Janis Joplin. Harry Emerson Fosdick once exclaimed, "Thank goodness all prayers are not answered or what an untrammeled mess this world would be.”

2. On a slightly higher plane are those prayers that are not in our best interest. Every conscientious parent learns to say, "No." Our prayers for relief from some burden or obligation may undermine our eventual growth. Maturity, character, and judgment come through adversity. My father used to say, "The steel has to be hammered before it becomes useful." To remove adversity is to deny the means of growth to the individual. Sometimes our problems are really our struggle to gain some new level of ability.

3. The next possibility, going up the scale, is that God denies the petition but fulfills the desire. There are times when we think we have located the path to happiness and petition God for it, but the request is denied, and only later do we discover that God had something better in mind. Augustine, the most important of the Early Church Fathers, was a wild young buck who wanted to go to Rome to enjoy la dolce vita. He writes that his mother, Monica, prayed fervently that God would prevent his going. She cried every night begging God to keep him at home. Her prayers appeared to be denied and Augustine went happily on his way to wicked Rome to live the dissipate life. BUT... It was in Rome that Augustine fell under the sway of the greatest Christian teacher of that age, Anselm, and was converted. Augustine would go on to become the most important writer and theologian for the next thousand years. There are those times when God denies the prayer but grants the intention. By the way, Monica was later canonized as Saint Monica of Hippo. (She is probably the patron saint of frantic parents.) .

4. All of this is merely prelude to the real question and the real problem. What about those times that go beyond our ability to reason and understand? What are we to say about those events that fly in the face of everything we believe about God? What about the teachers and children of Sandy Hook Elementary School who prayed for deliverance? What about the marathoners who were killed or injured in Boston? Didn't they pray for relief? What about the people of Oklahoma City, and those who prayed for rescue from the twin towers of 9/11.

What can we say about those times when it appears evil is triumphant?

Listen, I’m going to tell you a mystery.” (A mystery, by definition, cannot be explained. It can only be observed.) The cross is the key to understanding suffering. The cross is the magnifying glass through which we see clearly the meaning of undeserved suffering. The cross is the Rosetta Stone of all human experience.

Why did Jesus have to go to the cross? Because evil must have its due. In a world of cause and effects, accounts must be settled. The righteousness of God dictates that actions have consequences and evil actions have evil consequences. Unmerited suffering is the antidote that God uses to neutralize evil. Unmerited suffering means that the consequences of evil fall on someone besides the evildoer. The people of Sandy Hook, Boston, Oklahoma City, and 9/11 were the victims of someone else’s evil. Writing in the nineteenth century, the German poet/philosopher, Goethe, said, “We do not have to visit a mad house to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe.” These events have nothing to do with the guilt or innocence of the victims, but everything to do with the presence of evil.

The central mystery of our lives and our world is that God has chosen unmerited suffering to be the means by which he will redeem creation. The cross is unmerited suffering in its purest form and out of that suffering, God creates the resurrection. It is like taking coal dust and applying extreme heat and pressure until it is fused into a diamond. Unmerited suffering is the stuff of salvation. Hans Kung, the German theologian, sums up this truth by saying, “The cross is not merely a means to an end, but is the permanent signature of the Living Christ.”

Each of us will come to that time of genuine mystery when our suffering has no explanation. We will find ourselves harmed by actions not our own. Our task is to trust God when chaos overwhelms us.

David trusted God. When the child died, David got up, bathed, dressed, ate, went to the temple and worshiped. David prayed to God and God answered his prayer, “request denied.” It wasn’t the answer David wanted, but David trusted God. In due course, Bathsheba gave birth to Solomon who would become the greatest king in Israel’s history.

Jesus trusted God. After three days, God raised him from the dead and “gave him the name that is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and very tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the father.”

When God answers our prayers with a “no,” we may still trust that God knows what he is doing, that we are safe in his perfect love. In refusing our prayer, he is not rejecting us. Just the opposite, he is claiming us for his own and giving us the power to endure as he did for Jesus. Our suffering becomes part of the engine of salvation and makes us part of the redemption that God is bring about.

Paul tells the Romans, “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” And to the Philippians, Paul writes, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in death if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”








        





Welcome to YPPC!
5931 North Murray Dr.
Hanahan, SC  29410
Telephone # (843) 744-2268
Email: YPPC456@gmail.com

Rev. Dr. William F. (Chip) Summers

Worship Service: 11:00am, Sunday, May 26, 2019. 

Sermon:  “Our Spiritual Memory”

Scripture:  Joshua 4:1-9, I Corinthians 11:23-26
    
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Dr Chip's Easter sermon is on the Worship Page of this website.
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ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS - Meets at 9:45am each Sunday.   


CHILDREN'S SUNDAY SCHOOL – 10:00 - 10:45am. We have two multi-age children’s classes. The younger children meet in the nursery and the older children meet in the former choir room.


YPPC welcomed ten new members in the first three months of 2019.