My Response to Miracles - Acts 9:32-43 NIV
Continue the new Acts study - Sequel & Requel. Our 24th today. Why study this? Does it matter whether or not we believe in miracles or not? How does this affect our faith? Our day to day lives?
We live inside a scientific / mathematic world. We have learned the laws of physics to explain the order of things. As Christians, we believe in a Creator, Who created this order, this physics, these sciences.
#1 - Our challenge: to respond to miracles with ____________ .
"There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years. All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord." Acts 9:33, 35 NIV
Peter prays, "Jesus Christ heals you! Rise and make your bed. And immediately he rose."
Parents - I would memorize v. 34 and preach it to your kids to let them know about the importance of making their beds! 😀
“About that time [Dorcas] became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. Turning toward the dead woman, [Peter] said, 'Tabitha, get up.' She opened her eyes,
and seeing Peter she sat up.” Acts 9:37, 40 NIV
Both of these miracles became widely known by Christians throughout the region and Acts tells us that as a result many people believed in Jesus. Whenever we study a Scripture we have learned to ask, why study? How does this apply to me? Were miracles only something for Biblical times or are miracles possible today?
#2 - Definition of a miracle: God's intervening in the _________ world with __________ power.
"'Aeneas,"' Peter said to him, 'Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and roll up your mat.' Immediately Aeneas got up." Acts 9:34 NIV
How we respond to miracles is important because it demonstrates our world view. Ultimately it comes down to how we view all of creation. If we truly believe in a created universe by a Creator Who created the physics, science, and order (laws) of the universe, then it is much easier to believe that the Creator / Rule-maker and can also - at His discretion - be the Creator / Rule-breaker.
The challenge of the "Supernatural" power. The other struggle we have is often with the assumption that what was once considered "supernatural" could really be explained away by a lack of fully understanding the science, physics, rules. Surely there was a time not so long ago when smallpox vaccine wold be considered "supernatural," when to us such a medical treatment is standard science. But this just begs the question of fully understanding the rules. Surely it is possible to conceive of the Rule-maker understanding more about how the rules work (or don't work) than we do.
The challenge of the "Alternative" explanation. We've also gotten good at explaining away possible miracles with the alternative scientific or coincidental explanation. The therapy worked. The medicine worked. Or the original test was flawed. Or even if we can't explain it, surely there is an explanation we just don't know yet. Somehow that's easier than the "supernatural" explanation.
#3 - Why does my response to miracles matter? So much of our faith is based upon upcoming miracles. It matters what I think about...
... Jesus' __________________ .
"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God." 1 Thessalonians 4:16 NIV
... my __________________ .
"The dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air." 1 Thessalonians 4:16b-17a NIV
... my new ___________________ .
"We will be with the Lord forever." 1 Thessalonians 4:17b NIV
"I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand." John 10:28-29 NIV
... the new __________________ .
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God." Revelation 21:1,3 NIV
How do I reconcile my belief in future miracles with a lack of faith in present ones? Ultimately this is all about God's perfect will and His perfect plan. Why do some people experience desirable miracles (healing), while other people don't? How could God's will be to save some but not others? Challenging to our faith kind of questions. Yet against the backdrop of God's future planned miracles for each one of us, the challenges of this present mortality drop to insignificance. (Will we be asking such questions a million years from now?)
We receive one warning in this Scripture:
#4 - Beware the ______________________ syndrome .
"All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them. Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed." Acts 9:39-40 NIV
Peter had to send the well meaning widows out of the room. What were they guilty of? Grief. Remembrance. Affirming all the good that Dorcas had accomplished. But Peter had to send them out of the room. Why? Because of their belief! (NOT their unbelief!) What did they all absolutely believe to be true? That Dorcas was dead and that this condition was irreversible. The Rules had spoken!
Why did Peter have to send them out? Because it got in the way of His challenging that death rule. It interfered with his appeal to the Rule-maker/breaker. Remember that Jesus had to do the same thing with the apparently dead little girl.
How do we apply this #4? It's ok to pray for a miracle! It's ok to believe in a miracle! But be careful about who you surround yourself with. Well intentioned people can hurt your own faith / belief!
Conclusion - How to increase our miracle faith? Miracle Muscle building:
#1 -Appreciate your spiritual salvation as a miracle.
#2 - See all of life as the miracle it really is!
#3 Be thankful for your relationships as God's miraculous gift to you.
#4 Choose to see the alternative to the alternative!