Monday, February 18, 2008

This week's sermon: Miracles, Glimpses of the kingdom

I. God performs miracles throughout the Bible. Miracles point to God at work.
A. God performs miracles to add to his glory, his renown. Jer 32:20 - You performed miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt and have continued them to this day, both in Israel and among all mankind, and have gained the renown that is still yours.
B. God did miracles for Israel. God’s working on behalf of Israel was a sign that they were his chosen people. De 4:34 -Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by miraculous signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?
C. Jesus did miracles in his earthly ministry. His miracles were the reason many followed him and listened to his teaching. John 6:2 - and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick.
D. God worked through the Apostles and Disciples to perform miracles after Jesus’ ascension. These miracles confirmed that the Apostles were continuing the ministry of Christ. Ac 14:3 - So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders.
II. Miracles are at God’s initiation.
A. God told Moses what to do and how the miracles would occur. The miracles were not Moses' idea. Ex 7:9 - "When Pharaoh says to you, 'Perform a miracle,' then say to Aaron, 'Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh,' and it will become a snake."
B. We can pray for miracles, or for God to act in a miraculous way, but even the early Christians did not to tell God how to do so. Ac 4:29-30 -29 “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus."
C. Jesus refused to grant miraculous signs to those who would not believe without them. In three different gospels we are given the story of the teachers of the law coming to Jesus seeking a sign and this is his response: Mt 12:38-39 -Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, "Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you." He answered, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
III. God’s biggest most influential miracles are not always what we expect. God works miracles every day.
A. When the children of Israel were in the desert, their clothing did not wear out.
B. When Stephen was stoned in Acts for preaching Jesus, he was able to forgive them. Ac 6:8 - Now Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people.
C. When Saul was killing Christians, Jesus knocked him to the ground and changed him into the greatest evangelist/missionary/church planter of all time.
D. Jesus said that his greatest miraculous sign would be his death and resurrection. Joh 2:18-22 -Then the Jews demanded of him, "What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?" 19 Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." 20 The Jews replied, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?" 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

God has given us the comforter, the Holy Spirit, to walk with us in times of trial, in times of distress. His presence with us can cause us to respond to our circumstances in ways that defy human nature and glorify God the Father. Sometimes the greatest miracles happen when our difficult circumstances are not removed, and our faith remains intact. It is a miracle when Christians in foreign nations where believing in Jesus is a capital offense, continue to believe and follow him when their lives are in danger. It is a miracle when we can see God at work in our everyday circumstances and give him glory and honor and praise, even if we don’t always get our way.

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