THE MARVELOUS APPEARINGS OF THE LORD AND HIS ANGELS
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
24 DECEMBER 1996
BY: Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Have you ever stood quietly watching a winter sunset as the snow becomes blue, the ice a pinkish purple, and the clouds take on a multitude of constantly changing colors?
Then the sunset slowly fades into night
I like to picture the first Christmas eve that way. Though they probably didn't have the snow and ice, they most certainly had the drama and emotion.
8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.
10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;
11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 "This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."
15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us."
16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.
17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.
18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.
20 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.
Can you imagine what the shepherds felt like when the angels appeared to them?
Can you feel the chills running up and down your spine?
I really hope you can, and I pray that you haven't forgotten the appearings of the Lord to you.
They may not have been as dramatic as the appearing before the shepherds, but if you open your heart and mind to really remember, you will find a time in your life, and probably several times, when the Lord appeared to you.
His appearance may not have even been visible, but He most definitely left some lasting impression upon you.
Unlike these shepherds, who went and told others of what had taken place, we have a tendency to try to excuse away these miracles.
Why do we do this?
I suppose it's because we're afraid to talk about these occurrences, because others might make fun of us.
But in most cases, I have found just the opposite to be true.
Usually, when I break the ice and begin to talk about the appearings of the Lord in my life, I find many others who seem to have a weight taken off them, and they begin to tell of their own experiences that they had previously been afraid to talk about.
When I talked about my own near death, out-of-body experience, I found that nearly a third of the people at our Bible study have had similar experiences.
Such an experience proves that we have a soul and spirit, and that such an experience is taking place in the spiritual world of the Lord, for no one can see us in such a state, but we can see them.
To me, this happened in the Air Force, some 22 years before I fully acknowledged Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior; but He was with me nonetheless.
And as I look back, there were many other times when He guided and directed my life.
And each time, I had excused it away, as I know many of you have done.
But the Lord never let go of me, and He doesn't give up on others, either.
Then there came that day when I was flying in our plane, all alone, and I had broken out on top of the clouds into the bright sunlight and clear blue sky; and I began to talk to the Lord.
All I said, was, "God, if You're really up there, You have to let me know, for I don't have any other answers."
And as evidenced by my presence here today, He did answer my prayer.
He didn't answer in any dramatic way; but in a series of many subtle instances He brought me into His presence and to a time when I would truly repent and accept Him for who He is.
And I can joyfully say my life has never been the same again.
There were those two times when I was distressed over a problem, and He spoke to me out loud (At least I heard an audible voice).
And there were those times when I needed assurance, and I smelled the perfume of His presence.
And those ever so many little miracles that he shows me.
I know that many a person has received a personal comforting touch from the Lord in their times of need.
I know you have had similar experiences, even if you don't outwardly acknowledge them.
I also know that the Lord is with you, even at this very moment.
So, this is my Christmas gift to you: I free you from your fear that you are all alone in the things that you have experienced; for you are not alone, and you have a story to tell, and others need to hear it, just as you needed to hear me this evening.
I give the joy of all of heaven to you, that the light of the Lord would be born in your heart, and that you would grow and blossom in that marvelous light.
This is what brings about a truly merry Christmas.
Your Comments are welcome
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