Sermon Transcript



This week I had the opportunity to attend a luncheon where I got to do kind of a nerdy thing.  I got to tap into the nerdy side of me that likes to hear investment people and investment counselor and even economists talk about the world economy.  Some of you have already glazed over.  You’re ready to nod off to sleep, but it’s just kind of one of the things I enjoy from time to time.  And it was fascinating to hear this gentleman who was there who really has a grasp on world markets and could talk about any place in the world from an economic and investment standpoint and, just kind of off the cuff seemingly, talk very deep and sometimes way over my head.  I have a layman’s understanding of these kinds of things, but I’m always interested in them.  But it was evident that this man had a deep, deep well because of what he did for a living but because of his understanding of global markets.



And one of the questions that came was from a man who said, “Hey, tell what is going on in Japan.”  I’m reading this things about Japan, and I’m thinking, I don’t know what’s going on in Joplin, let alone Japan.  But this guy was tapped in and wanted to know what was going on in Japan.  And the guy who answered the question, you know, again, just tapped into that deep well and summarized the problems in Japan that I didn’t know about in just three simple statement.  He says, “Number one, Japan has an aging population.  Number two, they have a low birth rate.  And thirdly, they have little to no immigration.”  I thought, wow, who knew?  I had always heard about what was called The Lost Decade in Japan- that time between the early ‘90s and the early 2000s when Japan experienced an economic stagnation. You know, economists talk about that.  I didn’t know there were ongoing problems in Japan related to an aging population, a low birth rate and no immigration.  That’s a problem for a country.



But I’m sitting here as a pastor thinking about all this.  I’m thinking, wow, that describes a lot of churches, or maybe some church that I know.  They’re really in a tight spot because they have an aging population.  They have a low birth rate, meaning they haven’t seen anybody come to faith in Christ, born again into the family of God for years, maybe decades.  And there is no immigration.  There’s no new people coming through the front door of the church.  That’s a problem in Japan.  That’s a problem in a church, right?



And I sat there and I just thought to myself, praise God that doesn’t describe this church that we call Atlantic Shores.  We don’t have an aging congregation.  We have a diversified congregation, age-diversified.  Which means when you come here, you get to experience an intergenerational worship experience.  We encourage you to get connected in small groups, in life groups that are also intergenerational.  And that’s a good thing.  That’s a great experience to have.  We don’t have a low birth rate.  We’ve seen 117 people come to faith in Jesus Christ I think in the last 45 to 60 days through the extended ministries of this church, vacation Bible school, kids’ camp, student camp, mission trips around the world.  We even have a team in Southeast Asia right now that we’re praying for as they go into that part of the world.  And who knows what kind of report they’re going to come back with about people who came to faith in Jesus Christ.  But we don’t have a low birth rate.  And we don’t have an immigration problem.  We’ve got new people coming into the life of the church every week and every month, and it’s a very, very exciting time.  And if you're one of those new people, welcome.  We’re glad you’re here.  Join with us in all the exciting things that God is doing here.



So that little Japan thing doesn’t describe this church, and it doesn’t describe the early church in the book of Acts either.  And we learned that a long time ago in our study of the book of Acts.  It was a very diverse group of people whom God used to start the church.  Back 2000 years ago we can reasonably assume it was not a monolithic group.  In terms of their age they were all over the map.  And they were an ethnically diverse group.  Even starting in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost there were people from regions all across that part of the world who were speaking in different languages.  And the miracle of the baptism of the Spirit and the coming of the Holy Spirit allowed the early apostles to speak in their languages.  So it was a very diverse group of people.



They did not have a low birth rate.  Oh my, the birth rate was exploding through the roof, tens of thousands of people coming to faith in Jesus Christ just in Jerusalem.  And they didn’t have an immigration problem.  This was the birth of the church.  This was a time when there were scores of people coming into this entity Jesus called the ecclesia of God, the called out ones, the church of Jesus Christ that was not spoken of in the Old Testament. The first time it was ever mentioned was in Caesarea Philippi when Jesus was with His disciples and He said, “I will build my church, my ecclesia.”  This was the start of that.  And the immigration, the migration into the body of Christ through the front doors of the ecclesia has been going on for 2000 years.  It’s an exciting time to read about in the book of Acts.  It’s a page-turning kind of record and account of what happened 2000 years ago.  And we are in that flow.  We are in that stream.  It continues on today.



It was a transitional time in God’s plan.  It was a transitional time in the sense that God was doing something new 2000 years ago.  Following the death, the burial and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 40 days later the Holy Spirit comes.  The church is born into existence, and God was up to something new.  It was a transitional time, and it was a unique time. We call it the apostolic era.  And we defined an apostle as somebody who was eyewitness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  And the reason we say we don’t have apostles today in the technical sense is because none of us were there.  We were not eyewitnesses.  And so as the apostles died off, the apostolic era ended.



One of the things that uniquely was happening during the apostolic era was that God confirmed the message and the messengers through signs and wonders and miracles.  And we get to two of those signs and wonders and miracles at the end of Acts 9.  We’re going to get to the story in a  minute, but in verses 32-43 there is somebody whose body is healed and later somebody who is raised from the dead.  Two apostolic era miracles we’ll call it where God puts an exclamation point just before He’s about to do something big within the big thing that He’s doing.  I’m talking about Acts 10 that we’ll get to next week where now the gospel spreads to even the Gentiles.  And the Jews…that was just not even a factor in their mind that the gospel would go that far.



Before we get to the story in Acts 9, let’s talk a little bit about miracles though.  And let me start in the scholarly realm.  A respected theologian and apologist of the Christian faith known as Norman Geisler defines a miracle this way.  “A miracle is a special act of God that interrupts the natural course of events.”  He calls it “a divine intervention, a supernatural exception.”  He goes on to say, “To expand on this definition we need some understanding of what is meant by natural law.  Broadly, a natural law is a general description of the usual orderly way in which the world operates.  It follows then that a miracle is an unusual irregular specific way in which God acts within the world.”  All right?  You still with me on that?  What he is saying is there is natural law and then what we refer to as supernatural.  But I even want to suggest to you that even with what we call natural law, you’ll see the supernatural hand of God.



Let me explain it this way.  Back in Genesis 1 we have the creation story.  And God created the worlds as we know it.  And He put certain natural laws in place, like, for instance, the law of gravity.  And it’s the law of gravity that controls, as it were, the orbits of the planet in our little corner of our little small galaxy called the Milky Way, which is one of billions and billions of galaxies as we understand it from a scientific and astronomical standpoint.  And this earth that we are on is perfectly distanced from the sun.  It’s tilted at a certain tilt.  It rotates and revolves every day at a certain speed and rate and then revolves around the sun, perfectly distanced from the sun at 93 million some odd miles.  If we were a little bit closer we would burn up.  If we were a little bit farther we would freeze up.  And all the planets that we talk about in our science class just kind of orbit around.  That’s called natural law, but don’t mistake the supernatural hand of God in that.  We wake up to miracles every day that we call natural law.  And nature does this kind of thing…no, it’s nature’s God that has His supernatural hand on it, making sure that when we woke up this morning our planet didn’t drift too close to the sun or too far away from the sun.  But we’re in this perfectly synchronized thing in our little corner of a galaxy, in our little corner of this massive universe where, because of that synchronization, life can exist perfectly.



Colossians tells us that Jesus Christ is the creator and the sustainer of all of that.  So when we start talking about miracles, let’s not say that a natural law is absent of the supernatural hand of God.  Just the opposite.  I have a pediatrician friend who says, “Let me just remind you of this.  Every time I see a child born, it’s a miracle to me.”  And it is.  It’s so normal and natural to us.  And it is part of the natural law- conception, nine months of gestation in a mother’s womb, and the baby comes out.  And we see it happen every day, literally every day.  But we ought to stand in wonder and awe and astonishment at the miracle that it is, because the supernatural hand of God is there making sure that happens.



Different from that is a miracle.  It’s still the supernatural hand of God, but in an exceptional way that steps outside of the natural laws that He put in place.  And by definition, therefore, a miracle is extremely rare.  Miracles are extremely rare in history and in Bible history.  So much so that I would say to you, be careful thinking you need a miracle a day to keep the devil away.  If miracles were that common, we wouldn’t call them miracles.  We would call them routines, all right.  Now, again, natural law…there is supernatural going on there as the Creator sustains His universe.  But the kind of miracles that we read about in scripture are actually very rare.



Let me explain what I’m talking about here.  When you study the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and you pay particular attention to the times when there were a lot of miracles and miracles flowing through individuals—human beings who were the instruments God was using of those miracles—those miracles tend to fall into three or four eras of time, the first which is what we would call the Exodus all the way to the conquest of the Promised Land era.  Think of Moses.  He was 80 years old.  He was herding sheep for his father-in-law on the backside of the desert.  He has the burning bush experience.  And he goes all the way back to Egypt, and he does the “let my people go” thing in front of Pharisees.  And God gave Moses the ability to perform miracles.  Remember the staff?  He even gave that ability to his brother Aaron, and they did those things in front of the Egyptian magicians.  God was about to do something big.  It’s the emancipation of the Hebrews who had been in slavery for 430 years.  God was about to move His plan forward and emancipate His people.  And what you find in the scriptures when God is about to do something big, He brings an exclamation point or two by way of miracles- the supernatural and exceptional intervention of God.



And He did that during the time of the Exodus all the way through the wilderness wanderings.  We read stories of miracles there.  All the way to the time when Joshua led the people of Israel across the Jordan River into the Promised Land.  And they are taking possession of the land that God had promised them.  We read stories about the walls of Jericho falling down, all that kind of stuff.  A time of miracles.



The next time we see a significant rise in the supernatural and miraculous is not until the prophetic ministries of Elijah and Elisha.  And not every prophet in the Bible performed miracles.  They all proclaimed the Word of God and were God’s messengers.  But they were not all miracle workers.  Elijah and Elisha were significantly so for reasons that God had in His plan and to put that exclamation point there.  Elisha performed twice the number of miracles that Elijah did.



And then the next time you see a significant influx of miracles in the Bible is not until Jesus and the apostolic era.  And, in fact, the 400 years leading up to that time…four centuries.  Think about that.  There wasn’t even a word from God between Malachi and Matthew, you know, that time between the testaments.  Imagine living during that time.  You’re 60, 70, 80, 90 years of life on this earth.  There wasn’t a word from God as best as we can tell.  Not a supernatural miraculous intervention by God anywhere recorded.  He was silent.  But there was messianic expectation building up during those years, such that when Messiah came, when Jesus came, He came accompanied with signs and wonders and miracles.  Why?  Because all the Old Testament prophecies said when Messiah comes, the blind will see, the lame will walk.  Even John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus, when he was in prison and had a moment of doubt, sent word by his disciples to Jesus, “Are you the one?”  And Jesus sent word back.  He says, “Remind John about the miracles.”  It’s an exclamation point or two or three to say, “God is doing something big at this time.  Messiah has arrived.”  And those miracles continued on through the apostle era, when after the death, the burial and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the church was born.  And God was doing something big.  We’re part of that.  We’re downstream from that.  But when He was getting it off the ground, the exclamation points came- the miracles, the signs, the wonders.



The next time we read about in scripture when miracles in that kind of a significant way will return is at the end of the age just prior to the second coming of Jesus Christ.  Now we’re into Bible prophecy, and specifically those seven years in future Bible prophecy known as the Tribulation period when I believe the church will be raptured out prior to that.  During the Tribulation, the supernatural, exceptional hand of God will return.  Even the Antichrist will perform miracles just like the Egyptian magicians did, okay.  Don’t underestimate what the devil can do in the supernatural realm.  That will be on steroids during the Tribulation period, where this figure known as the Antichrist will perform miracles, the Bible says, in such a way that even the elect might be deceived.  And it’s just prior to a big thing that God is going to do called the awesome day of the Lord, the second coming and return of Jesus Christ.



All of that I want you understand in light of where these two apostolic era miracles that we’re going to read about in Acts 9 just towards the end of the chapter.  Keep in mind, God is doing something big.  But He’s about to do something big within the big thing.  He’s about to send Peter from Joppa, where we find him at the end of Acts 9, to Caesarea to meet a guy named Cornelius, who is a Gentile who came to faith in Jesus Christ.  And all of the pride and the prejudice that was built up in Peter and all the Jews who started the church thinking that this gospel thing is only for the Jews, they’re going to now understand, no, it’s for the Gentiles as well.  You and I wouldn’t be here unless God did something big in the midst of the big thing that He was already doing.  And He draws an exclamation point twice at the end of chapter 9, in part to get Peter’s attention, to get the church’s attention that something big is coming.  Now we’re going from Jerusalem to Judea.  They’ve been to Samaria.  They’re getting a taste of it being a (0:19:00.0) multiethnic…all this kind of thing.  The ends of the earth include the Gentiles.  That’s big.  That’s huge.  Thus the miracles.



So let’s go to Acts 9 beginning in verse 32 and read about the first of these two apostolic era miracles.  And this one has to do with the healing of somebody’s body.  It says in verse 32, “Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda.”  Now, if you’ve been with us to Israel or if you know that part of the world, Lydda today is probably in the region of where the Ben Gurion Airport is near Tel Aviv.  Peter is making his way up the Mediterranean coast.  He is going to go to Lydda and then to Joppa, and then eventually to Caesarea.  Verse 33, “There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was (0:20:00.0) paralyzed.  And Peter said to him, ‘Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.’  And immediately he rose.  And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.”



Now, that’s all we know about this miracle story.  We don’t know much about Aeneas.  He’s not mentioned beyond here.  We just know that he’s had a really rough eight years.  He was paralyzed in some way eight years ago. He’d been bedridden.  He’s not necessarily reaching out to Peter.  Peter just happens to be in the area.  He finds his way to Aeneas’s house.  And Peter doesn’t make a circus of it.  I appreciate that about Peter.  He doesn’t draw attention to himself.  He’s very quiet about this.  He doesn’t evoke any personal power here.  He says, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you.”  Doesn’t even lay hands on him.  Doesn’t get a big crowd of people, “Hey, come over here and watch me while I do this.”  Peter has already dealt with that matter.  Remember in Acts 3 when they healed the infirm man, the lame man outside the temple?  And afterwards all these people were gathering around Peter and John.  And they were trying to make supernatural superheroes out of them.  Caped crusaders of the cross, all that kind of stuff.  And Peter would have none of it.  He says, “Listen, I’m just Peter.  This is not about me.  It’s about Jesus.”  And I always appreciated that about Peter.  And he does that here.  He says to Aeneas, in a very understated kind of way, “Jesus Christ heals you.”  And it’s an instantaneous miracle.  The man picks up his bed, and he moves on from there.  And look at the result.  News began to spread.  And it says that many people turned to the Lord.  And that’s the end of the story there.



The second story is about the raising of the dead.  And it goes on in verse 36.  “Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas.”  You know, I always love these Bible names.  Don’t ever name your daughter Dorcas, because the short version that, you know, just saying, “Hey, Dork.”  It doesn’t work.  But Luke gives her Aramaic name in addition to her Hebrew name.  Why?  Because he is sensitive to his audience.  He knows the diversity of audience that he has here.  So some knew her as Tabitha, some knew her as Dorcas.  “She was full of good works and acts of charity.  In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room.  Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, ‘Please come to us without delay.’  So Peter rose and went with them.  And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room.  All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them.  But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, ‘Tabitha, arise.’  And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up.  And he gave her his hand and raised her up.  Then, calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive.  And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.  And he stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner.”



Now, there is a lot going on there.  Let me just comment on a few things.  First of all, again, Peter didn’t make a circus of this.  And I appreciate that.  Jesus was always careful to say to people whom He healed…oftentimes He went, “Shh, don’t tell anybody.”  Why?  Because He wants us to walk by faith and not by sight.  And a faith that is propped up by the necessity of a miracle is not a strong faith.  That’s walking by sight, not by faith.  The miracles had a purpose.  Oftentimes when God was about to do something big, something new, you know, the signs and the wonders came to get people’s attention, but always to point people to faith.  God is high on faith.  Without faith it is impossible to please Him.  So He doesn’t make a circus of this.  He didn’t get a big crowd together and have a healing service and all of that.  He’s just very quiet about it.



He also…it’s interesting.  When he heals her, it says afterwards he offered her his hand.  What God is doing in Peter’s life right now, again, is in preparation for Acts 10 when all of the pride and the prejudice that was in him about the Jew and Gentile thing is going to melt.  And we’ll get to that next week.  It’s an exciting story.  But here is some of that beginning to melt.  Peter is beginning to understand that all of the things that he thought were unclean are not unclean, like a corpse.  In Jewish understanding, you don’t touch a corpse.  You don’t touch a dead body.  You’d be considered unclean, ceremonially unclean.  But he raises her up and takes her by the hand.  That’s pretty significant.  He also later stays at the home of Simon the tanner, a Gentile.  And the Lord is beginning to work on Peter here a little bit.



This is a raising of the dead.  Technically, we call it a resuscitation, not a resurrection in the sense that she was in her now glorified body.  The only one and the first of those kinds of resurrections was Jesus Christ.  And we know He was in His glorified body because of the unique things that were happening in His post-resurrection appearance.  But even Lazarus was a resuscitation.  He came forward in his own body and eventually died again to go into the grave and await truly the last resurrection when he would be resurrected in his glorified body.  But here we have another punctuation mark.  Get ready.  God is about to do something big, and here it’s coming in Acts 10.



But before we get there, let’s just pause for a little reflection on signs and wonders and miracles.  Let’s go to Hebrews 2 for just a moment.  And let’s hear what the writer of Hebrews says.  Kind of a commentary on the apostolic era and our understanding of how God was using sign and wonders and miracles at that time.  It says in verse 3, “How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?  It was declared at first by the Lord”—download the Gospels and Jesus’s ministry—“and it was attested to us by those who heard.”  Those are the eyewitnesses.  Those are the disciples.  Those are the apostles.  Verse 4, “while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.”  Writer of Hebrews is saying here that during this time, this unique time in God’s plan, that the eyewitnesses who were with Jesus, they were given these supernatural powers of signs and wonders and miracles to confirm the message and the messengers.  Because, quite frankly, they didn’t have the Bible, the complete canon of scripture that we have today.



We go today in biblical authority.  As a pastor, I don’t need the confirmation of a miracle to prove to you that I’m speaking the Word of God.  I say thus sayeth the Lord, and our confidence is in the Word of God.  And we walk by faith.  Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the Word of God.  And our faith is directly connected to our confidence in the Word of God, not in some visible manifestation of the exceptional expression of God’s supernatural power.  You follow me there?  That doesn’t mean that God isn’t performing miracles today or can’t perform miracles today.  God can do anything He wants at any time anywhere, and He doesn’t need my permission to perform a miracle.  And if you need a miracle today, by all means, pray for one.  More often than not, God works through natural laws.  And sometimes He just lets the natural laws continue on.  And He says, “Whether I do a miracle for you or not, are you still going to trust Me?  Are you still going to trust Me?  Because I want you to walk by faith and not by sight.”



But with that in mind, how do we respond to all this?  How do we understand signs and miracles and wonders?  Let me just take those three words and break down and give us some application to go home with today.  The word “sign” encourages us to do what I just said- have confidence in the Word of God.  A sign miracle…and keep in mind, in John’s Gospel, he records eight miracles that Jesus performed.  He performed many, many miracles, but John in his Gospel highlights eight of them.  He calls them sign miracles.  They were signs meant to point people to, “Here is the Messiah.  God is doing something big.  God is doing something new.  He is doing something that has been prophesied in times past.  And there have been centuries of messianic expectation building up.  And guess what?  It’s happening.  Here is the punctuation mark- the signs and miracles of Jesus.”  And John goes through eight of them to point us to Jesus.  But let’s just remember.  Every time Jesus healed somebody, more often than not He went, “Shh,” because He wanted us to have confidence in who He was and what He said and for us to walk by faith.



Signs confirm the truth.  Signs authenticate the message and the messenger.  There was even a time when the Pharisees came to Jesus, and they said, “Show us a sign, Jesus.  Show us a sign that You're the Messiah.  Come on.  Do something visible.  Do something that is the exceptional manifestation of the supernatural nature of Your person.  Show us a sign.”  And He looked at them and said, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign.  The only sign I give you is Jonah the prophet.”  And it was really an allusion to His resurrection.  Because as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a fish, the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the belly of the earth.  He says, “That’s the sign.  That’s the biggest exclamation point I’m going to give you.”  And He moved on.  Have confidence in the Word of God.  Have confidence in the Word of God is the first idea behind a sign.



Secondly, be astonished by the works of God.  There are signs, and there are wonders.  There are wonders.  How is your sense of childlike wonder these days?  Remember the movie or the television program years ago, a sitcom called The Wonder Years?  It was about this guy who was always looking back on his childhood years, and he called them the wonder years because children have a unique way of just kind of being full of wonder and awe and a sense of astonishment.  It’s easy to astonish a kid, right?  And how ironic that we’re supposed to have childlike faith and never lose our sense of wonder and our sense of awe.  Some people say that our educational system is great, but it saps the wonder and awe and sense of astonishment out of kids too early.  And certainly as people of faith, we need to make sure we don’t lose our sense of wonder and awe.



Listen to these verses.  Habakkuk 1:5, The Lord says, “Look among the nations, observe; wonder.  Because I am doing something in your days you would not believe if you were told.”  I love that.  Exodus 15:11, “Who is like thee among the gods, O Lord?  Who is like thee?  Majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, and working wonders.”  Psalm 40:5, “Many, O Lord, are the wonders which thou hast done.”  Psalm 107:8, “Let them give thanks to the Lord for his wonders to the sons of men.”  Psalm 139, one of my favorites, verse 14, “I will give thanks to thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are thy works, and my soul knows it very well.”  I think of the messianic prophecy in the Old Testament, Isaiah, that talks about the Messiah Jesus being a wonderful counselor and a mighty God.  And then I think of the Christmas story, and I think of Luke 2:18.  “All who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.”  How is your sense of childlike wonder this morning?  I know you need a miracle.  But even if God doesn’t bring the miracle, if He doesn’t do the exceptional thing in your life today, will you still trust Him?  Will you still have confidence in the Word of God?  Will you still be astonished by the works of God even through natural law?



You know, every time I see one of those pictures from the Hubble space telescope, there is just something that wells up inside of me and goes, wow.  And wow leads to worship, not of nature, but of nature’s God who has His steady hand upon all of that who spoke those worlds into existence.  You and I are a walking miracle.  You know, you say, “Well, I’m looking for a miracle today.”  You don’t have to look very far.  Just look at nature, nature’s laws, and go, “Really?”  Because I don’t believe it all happens by accident.  There is an all-powerful God who created it, who has His hand in it, who sustains it, and who, every once in a while, does something exceptional outside of the natural law.  We call that a miracle.  But He does it for His own purposes and not to dazzle in a way that creates a circus environment, but in a way that accomplishes His purposes.  Be astonished by the works of God.



Finally…and this is around the word “miracle.”  Signs, wonders, miracles.  Trust in the unlimited power of God.  Again, nobody is saying God can’t do miracles today.  Come on.  He can do whatever He wants at any time anywhere in any place for His own purposes.  You’re not going to manipulate Him to do a miracle any more than I can.  Pray for one.  There are times we get ourselves in a place where we’re really looking for God to do something exceptional, out of the ordinary, natural way that life works.  And sometimes He does that even today.  There are some of you who could meet me in the lobby today, and you could tell a story of when God did that.  And I say praise the Lord.  But is that the normal way He works today in this time and in this era?  I put a question mark there, leaving enough room for God to do whatever He wants to do, but also understanding He wants me to have confidence in the Word of God.  He wants me to be astonished by the works of God.  He wants me to trust in the unlimited power of God and realize that there is nothing that He cannot do, that nothing is impossible for Him.



And my mind and my heart go to Ephesians 3:20.  “Now unto Him who is able to do exceeding and abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine, according to the power that works within us…in Christ Jesus and through His church forever and ever, amen.”  And he goes on from there.  What power is he talking about there in Ephesians?  The power of the Holy Spirit in us.  He’ll do exceeding and abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine.  You can’t even dream…“eye has not seen, ear has not heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those who love him.”  In other words, He is going to blow us away one day, just astonish us with His power and His love and His faithfulness in all that He is planning.  You can’t even imagine it today.



But He is the kind of God that does exceeding and abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine according to the power that works within us.  See, here is the deal.  You have that power in you.  It’s called the Holy Spirit.  The same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead lives inside you.  It’s not personal power.  It’s not political power.  It’s not all the kinds of false power that we seek for in our world today.  It’s the power of the living God who came to live inside of you in the person of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 8:11 says it this way- “If the spirit of him who raised Jesus Christ from the dead dwells in you…”—and He does.  He just made the case that He does.—“he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”  The same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is living inside of you.



You say, “Well, Pastor, how do you access that power?”  Oh, that’s a whole other conversation, isn’t it?  The Bible talks about walking the Spirit, living by the Spirit, keeping in step with the Spirit.  It’s about yielding to that power.  It takes a moment of surrender.  You see, you have the Holy Spirit.  You have the power.  The question is, does the Holy Spirit have you?  And that takes surrender.  It takes a daily surrender to say, “Our Father who art in heaven, thy kingdom come, thy will be done.”  Okay?  Not mine.  I have to get to that point where I completely and wholly surrender to the Holy Spirit who lives inside of me, a power source that is unlimited, to do exceeding and abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine.



But more often than to, we quench, grieve, resist the Spirit.  I have found that when the power flows, when God does something big, it usually comes prior to a very quiet but intentional moment of surrendering in my life to the power He put within me.  And I could scream all day long for a miracle here and a miracle there.  And what He is looking for is faith.  “Walk by faith and not by sight, and surrender wholly and completely to Me.  Put Me in charge.”  There is only one person who will sit on the throne in your life and mine, and He isn’t going to fight us for it.  He’ll be resident in us, but He won’t sit on that throne until we make Him president of us.  And there is only one seat there.  That’s how the power flows.  That’s how the Christian life is a victorious Christian life.  And when we do that individually and even corporately as a church, wow!  It’s just a wonderful thing.  And the greatest miracle of all, the greatest miracle of all are the 117 salvation decisions in the last 45 days.  Friends, that’s the supernatural hand of God that takes somebody from spiritual death to spiritual life, from spiritual darkness to spiritual light, when somebody is born into the family of God.  Let’s be astonished by that.  Let’s praise the Lord for that.  Let’s have confidence in the Word of God.  Let’s be astonished by the works of God.  And let’s trust in the unlimited power of God.  That’s church in 21st century.  And I’m excited to be a part of it, and I hope you are, too.



“Every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”

Romans 8:28 MSG