I found this verse in Galatians: “For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.” (5:5)

What matters is this: faith expressed in love.

What matters is this: faith expressed in love.

Miracles happen yet they often happen when you least expect them. They often happen because someone in love steps out in faith.

Here are three examples of miracles that occurred recently.

One miracle occurred at annual conference during a debate concerning the ministry of prison chaplains. In the midst of doing our business, God taught us all a valuable lesson. Rev. Casey, one of the leaders of the ministry was expressing his disappointment to the conference of receiving fewer funds to meet ever increasing critical needs. How was he going to do that?

In the midst of a difficult economy, Bob was expressing a frustration felt by many. Times are difficult and budgets are being cut in the face of rising needs.

A few minutes later someone stood and asked: “Would it be possible for us to give to the Prison Chaplains ministry?” After receiving permission, this person walked down the center aisle of the civic center amongst five to six thousand people and went to the altar at the front and placed a donation on the table.

Over the next few minutes while conference continued people came, at first one or two, then ten, then hundreds came forward and placed an offering on the altar.

God was showing us a miracle right in the midst of our frustration.

That’s the way God often works. In the midst of our despair is often when God chooses to appear in such a dramatic way that we cannot help but notice.

We saw a miracle that day.

What matters is this: faith expressed in love.

A second miracle, happened at annual conference that you didn’t see. One of the pastors in our area received a challenge from God.

Rev. Joe Shoop listened to the debate about the pension fund. This report is not usually one of the highlights of our annual conference. But this time there was a problem. The pension fund for our pre 1982 pastors would not be adequate to meet their needs. The amount needed to fix this situation was large, so large that at one point the speaker questioned whether we could do it.

At that point a voice spoke loudly and clearly to Joe: “Yes we can.”

Joe, a pastor’s son himself, experienced first-hand the hard work and sacrifices made by many of our pastors. Later he came by to see me with a plan and a need for prayer.

“Larry, God is calling me to be part of an effort to raise the funds necessary to properly care for our pastors and their families.”

Over the next few months, Joe will be talking to many of us and asking for our help.

I believe Joe has been inspired by God to accomplish a miracle. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

What matters is this: faith expressed in love.

A New Handicap Ramp for Hales Ford UMC

A third miracle

happened yesterday. We blessed the completion of a handicap ramp for Hales Ford UMC, a small church near Smith Mountain Lake.

Why a miracle? Because Hales Ford UMC came near closing a few years ago. There didn’t seem to be much hope. People were tired and ready to give up. The community changed dramatically over the years and this little church seemed out of place.

Yet, there was a feeling God put them in that very location for a reason.

They refused to quit and over the last few years, have witnessed growth. But there were problems. Hales Ford UMC was an old building built on a hill. Many of the older members couldn’t negotiate the steps leading to the fellowship hall in the basement. At many of their fellowship dinners, members were being fed in their cars away from the celebration.

This had to change. But it would be difficult. The ramp needed to reach the basement entrance had to be unusually large and expensive. There was no money.

Yet, the church in the midst of a service dedicated themselves to trusting in God for the answers.

A contractor heard the story and donated his time and labor. Fund raisers were held. People from the neighborhood came by and gave even though they didn’t attend.

Yesterday, there was a dedication and a celebration, not just of a new handicap ramp but as a sign that God was in the midst of their congregation.

What matters is this: faith expressed in love.

I share these three stories for a reason.

When you go to church this morning… expect the unexpected.

What matters is this: faith expressed in love.

God is ready to work a miracle in your midst… are you ready to receive it?

What matters is this: faith expressed in love.

Come to church this morning knowing what matters and be ready for a miracle.