Pastor Jeff Struecker
December 23, 2018
We’re going to talk about miracles today. I would love to know what you think about miracles. In fact, I was going to basically ask for a quick show of hands, but I didn’t want to embarrass anybody in this room. So, what I’d like to do is a quick survey. This is one hundred percent anonymous. Nobody in the world will know how you answer this question, but I’m going to ask everybody to participate. The question is: What do you believe about miracles? Do you believe that God still does miracles today, 2018, in the Chattahoochee Valley like he did in the Bible?
Here are some possible answers: Yes, I’m convinced God still does miracles today. Or, I think that he still does miracles, but to be honest, I’m just not really sure. Or, it happened in Bible times, but I don’t think he still does miracles today. Or, I’m pretty sure he’s never really ever done miracles.
This is interesting to me because these results are almost exactly the same by percentage that we saw in the first service. Almost all of you said, “Yeah, I’m pretty sure he still does miracles today.” One person in the early service said maybe. Thank you for your honesty today. I really would like to ask you, if you were to poll the average person in the Chattahoochee Valley today, “Do you believe in miracles? Do you believe that God is powerful enough to do miracles? Do you believe that he still does miracles today?” I wonder if you’d get the same results. In other words, we’re in church, and most of us believe in miracles, but how much do you believe? Are you willing to take it to the bank? Do you believe that much in miracles?
The reason why we’re going to talk about miracles today is because there’s some junk out there that Christians use when they throw this term around. In fact, I don’t think we’re really cautious when we use the term miracles. Often, some people will give credit to something as a miracle that frankly, is an everyday occurrence. Sometimes we don’t give God credit for a miracle that really is a miracle, and God deserves the credit for it. Some of you ladies are sitting there right now, and you’re thinking to yourself, “Jeff, I’ll tell you what a miracle is. If my husband would take out the garbage once in a while, that would be a miracle.” It’s okay, Ladies. Go ahead and nudge your husband right now. That is highly unlikely, but it doesn’t necessarily mean highly unlikely is a miracle.
Guys, here’s your chance to nudge your wife because you’re thinking to yourself, “Jeff, it would be a miracle if my wife would get rid of those flannel pajamas that she inherited from her grandmother. If she ever went to bed wearing something that looked attractive, that would be a miracle in my house.” And though it isn’t ever going to happen, it doesn’t mean that it’s actually a miracle.
Some teenagers in this room are thinking to themselves, “You know what would be a miracle? The miracle that I’d ask God for is if my parents seemed to care more about the kind of man or woman that I’m becoming than about my grades at school. If they showed more interest in who I am at the heart level than how I’m doing in school and whether or not I’m going to get into a good college and land a good job that would be a miracle.” We toss this word miracle around way too easily sometimes, and then sometimes we often overlook the miracles that God does that are right there in front of us.
Today, we’re going to see a miracle from Acts chapter three. In order to set this up, I think I need to help you understand miracles in the first place. You see, many people would say, “If I just saw a miracle, then I could believe in God.” I want to remind you of something that the great mind C S. Lewis once wrote in a book entitled Miracles. Early in the book he wrote this statement, “Seeing is not believing.” In other words, if you can see it and if you can prove it in a laboratory, it doesn’t require any faith. There’s no belief in something that you can see. That doesn’t qualify as a miracle. Seeing is not believing. It’s not the same thing. What we’re going to see from the Bible today is a miracle that happens inside of people.
We just had a chance to watch this short video of what happened earlier in Acts chapter three. There was a guy who was born lame or crippled. His parents, his family, or his friends get him up every day, and they take him to the Temple. He’s begging for money because he can’t work. That’s what his life has been basically since birth. Then one day, two broke pastors show up, and he asked Peter and John for money. They don’t have any money to give him, but Peter and John give him something beyond his wildest imagination. They say, “I can’t give you silver. I can’t give you gold. But what I can give you comes from inside my heart. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, get up and walk.” This man who was born crippled is running, jumping, and praising God in the Temple. There’s a huge crowd that starts to assemble because everybody starts to catch wind of this guy. They know who this guy is, and they know he’s crippled. Now they’re seeing with their own eyes a man who is standing, running, and jumping in the Temple. Now they’ve got to wrestle with what they’re seeing. But really, today Peter sees this as an opportunity to ask them to wrestle with what’s going on in their heart about what they just saw.
Here’s what I’m going to try to do for us today. I am going to try to conclusively prove miracles still happen today. Before we get to the end of this chapter, I think I can prove to you that miracles are real. I think I can also convince you that most of you in this room have seen more than one miracle in your lifetime. Are you ready to learn a little bit about miracles from Acts chapter three today? Here is the first thing that I think I’d like for you to understand about miracles.
I. Miracles show the glory of God
Miracles are always designed to put God’s glory on display for people to see. What we get an answer to today is the question, why did God heal this man in the Temple? More importantly, why did God wait until now? Think about it with me. When this boy was young, he probably prayed for God to do a miracle and heal him, and he didn’t get it. His mama and daddy probably prayed for a miracle, and they didn’t get it. Today in Acts chapter three, God chooses to do a miracle now in this man’s life. Why did God wait ‘til now? Peter answers that question to the crowd when they come around and see this guy who was crippled and now standing up with his own two feet.
“And now, brothers and sisters, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your leaders also did. 18 In this way God fulfilled what he had predicted through all the prophets—that his Messiah would suffer. 19 Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, 20 that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send Jesus, who has been appointed for you as the Messiah. 21 Heaven must receive him until the time of the restoration of all things, which God spoke about through his holy prophets from the beginning. 22 Moses said: The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers and sisters. You must listen to everything he tells you. 23 And everyone who does not listen to that prophet will be completely cut off from the people.
You’re sitting there saying, “Wait a second, Jeff. You said we were going to talk about miracles today, and I don’t see the miracle in this passage of Scripture.” You’re the exact type of person that really needs to be here today because the miracle that Peter is describing is a miracle that happens inside people today. In fact, the exact miracle that we’re talking about is found back in verse nineteen. Peter says, “If you will reach out in faith, if you’ll take the risk, and if you’ll bet it all on God, he (Jesus) is waiting for you and he will change you. He will transform you. He will wipe out your sins.”
Do you know that the phrase “wipe out” is the phrase that you would have used back in the day to refer to taking a bath? I mean going from head to toe all the way under the water filthy dirty, and then you’re completely covered and totally clean. That’s what Peter is promising to the crowd today. He’s saying, “You guys cried out. ‘Crucify him.’ You didn’t know what you were doing. You didn’t understand who you were talking about. Now you’re covered with the guilt of that blood.” In fact, Pilate said it this way: “I wash my hands of what you’re asking me to do. This blood is on your head.”
Peter is saying, “If you will trust him, if you will reach out to him, he will clean you up. He will wash you of that blood, and he will restore or he will refresh you.” If you’re a soldier in this room, you understand the word “refresh”. This is R and R. You’ve been struggling, you’ve been suffering, you’ve been going through difficulties, and now we’re going to give you a time of rest and recuperation. -a time of refreshing, except God is going to do something supernatural.
Most of us in this room, I think, get the seriousness of what Peter is saying, but would you look at that last sentence? We probably missed the full weight of what Peter says when he says, “If you will cry out to God, he will send Jesus.” If you were in the crowd that day, you would be thinking in the back of your mind, “Wait a second, Peter. I saw that man die. I watched him carry his cross through the city streets. I know that they took him off of the cross and put him in a tomb. You’re telling me that if I cry out to God, God will forgive me. He will send that very same Jesus to forgive me, to heal me, and to change me.” Peter says, “That’s exactly the promise that I’m making to you today. God will put his glory on display, and it will shine into your soul if you will just simply cry out to him in faith.”
When we read the Christmas story as a family, you’re hearing about a miracle. If you go back and read from Matthew chapter two, there’s this miracle that happens, and I think it may go over most of our heads. Matthew chapter two says that God placed a star in the sky, and it’s bright enough that people all over the world get a chance to see this star. This star is unusual. It’s declaring and it’s showing that God’s Son is about to be born. -that a King is coming. Matthew two describes it this way: This star is seen so far away that these brilliant scholars from the East show up. We don’t know how many scholars, and we don’t know how far they came from. I think these guys came all the way from China to go see Jesus. They traveled for weeks or for months watching this star that was leading them to Israel. If you’re going to go see the birth of a baby, you would naturally go to the palace in Jerusalem.
When they get to the palace in Jerusalem, they say, “Hey, where’s the baby?” King Herod says, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. There’s no baby born in my palace.” Now these wise men are confused. Here’s how the miracle works in Matthew two: They leave Herod’s palace, and the Bible says the star moves across the sky and goes before them. It rests in the place in Bethlehem where Jesus is born. Did you hear what the Bible just said? You can’t test this in a laboratory. Stephen Hawking and all those radical atheists can’t explain this away. You could see it in the nighttime sky. God was miraculously, supernaturally guiding people to the spot where his Son Jesus would be born. That’s part of the Christmas story.
The biggest miracle on Christmas night was not the star in the sky; it was the baby in the stable. That’s the real miracle, because what the Bible says is that a baby was born to a virgin, and not just any child; this was Immanuel, God leaving heaven and coming to dwell in the flesh with us. Peter says, “You reach out to him, and God is waiting for you. God is there to clean you up and to forgive you. God will radically change your life if you repent.” This is the word that Peter’s using today. If you’re not sure what that word means, let me explain this phrase, because it doesn’t mean, “I checked the block, I walked an aisle, or I prayed a prayer.” That’s not what the word repent means. Repent says, “I believe something so much that it has radically changed the way that I live my life. I used to live like this, and now I live one hundred eighty degrees different because of what I believe.” That’s biblical repentance. Peter says to the crowd, “If you will reach out to him, if you will repent, Jesus will do a miracle, and he will do a miracle inside your heart.”
When God does these great, incredible acts in the Old Testament, it’s always to demonstrate his power. It’s always so that God would get the glory and people would worship him. But when you turn to the New Testament and you start to see miracles, they always point to Jesus. They always speak or shout to the greatness of Jesus. Peter makes this very clear for us next. If you want to understand about miracles today, first they declare God’s glory; they show God’s glory. Secondly, they speak to the world about the greatness of Jesus.
II. Miracles speak the greatness of Jesus
This is the miracle above all miracles. In this passage, God takes somebody who was dead and makes him or her alive, and he does it through faith in Jesus. Like an ambassador who speaks on behalf of the President, or like a herald who announces a message for the king, God’s miracles are speaking about how great his Son is.
“In addition, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those after him, have also foretold these days. 25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your ancestors, saying to Abraham, And all the families of the earth will be blessed through your offspring. 26 God raised up his servant and sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways.”
Peter says to the crowd, “I’ll go back further than Samuel. I’ll go back farther than the prophets. I’ll go back to the very beginning of the nation of Israel.” God chose a man named Abraham, and God made a promise to Abraham. The promise was not just to Abraham’s children and their children’s children. The promise to Abraham was that all people, all nations, will be blessed through your offspring. Do you see this word? The word offspring is singular. Peter’s trying to make sure that everyone in the crowd understands, we’re not talking about Abraham’s children and their children’s children and the children that come after them. Peter’s talking about one child that will come from the line of Abraham much later. This one child will bless all people and all nations for all time.
Peter makes sure that the crowd understands, “It’s not because you were born into the family of Abraham that you’re blessed. No, it’s because God sent his Son through the lineage of Abraham to bless all of the peoples on the face of the Earth and because God sent Jesus, he can turn each of you from your evil ways. What Peter is really saying (and most of you have figured this out over the last couple of weeks as you studied through Acts chapter three with us) is, if God is big enough to do a miracle like he did with Jesus, then God can do a miracle in your heart. God can do a miracle in your life.
I was doing a little bit of research by keeping an eye on the news stories that use the word miracle, just to prepare for this sermon. It’s funny how quickly we throw this phrase around. CNN this week reported that there was a speech given by President Xi Jinping of China, and he said the Chinese would perform “miracles that will impress the world in coming years”. If you read the story a little bit, he said, “Through hard work, wisdom and courage, the Chinese economy will do a miracle for years to come.” I want to ask him if I had the chance, “Do you understand what the word miracle means? Because if you can do it through hard work or if wisdom or courage can accomplish it, by definition, it isn’t a miracle.” In fact, I would really like to ask him, “Aren’t you the president of a communist state ruled through atheism? How could you possibly use the word miracle in the first place? It seems like that should be taken from your vocabulary, if you really understand what the word miracle means.” That’s what CNN is reporting this week.
Fox News just reported about an eleven-year-old girl. Yes, that’s right. For all of you Democrats, I just referenced Fox News. For all of you Republicans out there, I just talked about CNN. Don’t send me emails; I don’t care. I did it on purpose just so that you would hear both sides of the discussion. You hear this story about an eleven-year-old girl named Roxli Doss from Hays County, Texas. Roxli Doss was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. “We’ll do radiation, and maybe it will slow the tumor down. We can’t operate. You’re going to die from this tumor.” Roxli Doss tried to get treatment, but the doctors said, “There’s nothing we can do.”
This week, Fox News reported that Roxli Doss had a tumor, but she doesn’t have it anymore. You see, here’s what the news reported: She went in for a checkup. The doctors gave her an MRI. They did a scan of her brain, and now that tumor is not there. I don’t mean the tumor shrank. I mean the tumor isn’t there anymore. The doctors were so confused, so disturbed by what they saw, that the local doctors sent the results of this MRI to four other hospitals in America. All four hospitals, including John Hopkins and MD Anderson, said, “If this girl had a tumor before, she does not have a tumor now. There is no scientific or no medical explanation for what we’re seeing in this MRI, but this girl has absolutely no tumor nor trace of a tumor.” Now the medical community is trying to figure out what on earth happened to this eleven-year-old girl in Hays County, Texas. I’ll tell those brilliant doctors what happened; Mom and Dad were praying for a miracle, and God gave a Christmas miracle to the Doss family. He just gave that miracle a couple of days early.
The reason why I’m so passionate about miracles today is because the average atheist will fight you on this subject, because they understand maybe better than Christians that if there is a God, and if there is a God who can do miracles, then they are accountable for the way that they live their life to that God. So, the average atheist would tell you, “There can’t be a God, and he can’t do miracles, because if he did, I would have to give an account to him.” For the average atheist, they want to become God in their own life. I would tell those atheists, “If God has ever in human history performed one miracle, I no longer have the burden of evidence. Now, I don’t have to prove to you that God exists. Now you’re going to have to prove to me that God doesn’t exist. If he can step in and change the rules of nature, if he can suspend the laws of science one time, then he can do it any time he chooses to.
Some of you in this church have already figured this out from Acts chapter three. If God can heal a man who’s crippled from birth, he can heal your marriage. If God can cure a girl who’s eleven years old and has an inoperable brain tumor, he can cure the addiction that you’re struggling with. If God can fix a man or a woman who cried out, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”, turn them around, and rescue them from their evil ways, if he can do that for them, then he could do that for anybody.
I am one hundred percent convinced that miracles exist today. Here’s why: Because I’m a walking miracle. In fact, some of you out there can say the exact same thing. You are walking miracles. -because if you knew who I used to be before, if you knew the wickedness inside my soul before you would know there is no way that that man changed himself all on his own. He couldn’t do that. I believe I’m a walking miracle. I believe that the Holy Spirit is still doing miracles today because the Holy Spirit did a miracle of belief in my heart. Now I stand before you a very different man today then I was a long time ago when God snatched me out of my sins and radically cleaned me up and changed me. If he can do this for me, trust me, he can do this for anybody.
• I need the miracle of salvation. Today, I turned to Jesus in faith for the first time.
– I’ve been praying for a miracle and have started to lose hope lately that God would answer this prayer.
+ I need the Holy Spirit to do a miracle in _________ heart next year.
- Have you ever witnessed a genuine miracle? If so, explain the miracle.
- Do you believe there are some miracles that God can’t do or won’t do? Explain your answer.
- Read Matthew 12:39-42.
a. Is it wrong to ask God to do a miracle? Explain your answer.
b. What did Jesus mean by the “sign of Jonah”?
c. Does witnessing a miracle raise our level of accountability to God?
- Would witnessing a miracle convince your unbelieving friend to follow Jesus? If so, are you praying for God to perform a miracle?
- Is it possible for God to perform a miracle that doesn’t point back to him? Explain your answer.
- Pray by name for the Holy Spirit to work a miracle in someone’s life this week.