Mike Gerhardt, Scenes from Acts, Miracles part 1. Read Acts 5:12-16. Some say miracles happen every day. What is a miracle? When someone says it's a miracle that Mike is on time to the meeting; or it is a miracle that Mike is still alive after all the crazy stunts he’s pulled: are they really miracles? Chuck Swindoll states: a parking place at Christmas time in JC Penny's parking lot isn't a miracle (I know it seems like a minor one but it isn't) the fact that if your toothache stops hurting … or your hernia scar isn't large, isn't a miracle either, that's a good dentist or surgeon. Is Chuck correct? Can big AND little miracles happen? This month’s Readers Digest title story is Christmas Miracles! Isn’t there a Christmas movie called Miracle on 34th Street. Do miracles happen in everyday life? Personally, I believe in dramatic God only healing miracles AND every day prayed for ordinary miracles. By definition, a miracle is an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs. It has to be a God moment for it to be a miracle.
Reach out and touch someone used to be ATT's slogan. Another was long distance is the next best thing to being there. We live however in an age of constant connectivity. A Zits cartoon shows the teen Jeremy at his laptop when his father comes and asks Can I talk to you? The next few frames, he stops messaging his friends, gets out of Facebook, closes his laptop, unplugs his earbuds, switches off his cell phone and responds: Make it fast Dad, I am uncomfortable outside my state of perpetual connectivity!
Have you ever felt over-connected? I experienced a cultural phenomenon in Zambia in 2005. In Lusaka the capital, it seemed like everyone had a cell phone. In a land where electric and telephone poles were nonexistent, cell phones were everywhere. Even in the outlying villages, in their mud houses, they were talking on cell phones. An entrepreneur talked Nokia and Motorola to give away used cell phones to everyone in the country and to set up cell towers that only use solar power. You could answer the phone but to make a call you go to a kiosk (not the ones like in the mall). It was several mud blocks with a rough board as a table, four poles would hold up a piece of aluminum as a roof. There you purchase a phone card so you could call out. The kiosks also had several car batteries, with several wires attached to the terminals where you could charge your phone, for a few cents. We all have a need to be connected.
The most important connection we need is sometimes the lowest priority and least maintained, that is our connection with our creator God. In this paragraph, people were being connected with the power of God in healing. People were seeing miracles. They were being touched by God. Evil spirits were being driven away. I believe God still does miracles connecting people to His great power. I want to ask Bev Chester to share her story. (Bev gave testimony to a miraculous healing after being prayed for by Pastor Justin and two elders and anointed with oil).
Yet in verse 17, there was a group that wasn't happy and brought on the new church persecution. Let us read Acts 8:1-4. After Stephen was killed by being pelted with rocks, a great persecution began against the church. Scattered is the word diaspora which transliterated is dispersed. The believers in Jerusalem were scattered as God's seed to bring the Gospel to the world as was the command of Jesus. God used persecution to get them out of Jerusalem and plant them in new soil to bear fruit for His Kingdom. Some went to Judea and Samaria, and some went farther into the whole world. So, within a couple of chapters, God miraculously healed new members of His new church but then he allowed Stephen to die and others to be severely persecuted.
I have prayed for many to be healed by anointing with oil. A man in his forties was having digestion problems and they found a cancerous tumor on his colon. Friday, he went in for a pre-op examine and Monday was his surgery. I prayed and anointed him on the Sunday in between. Monday the doctors could not find the tumor and the PET scan was clean. He was miraculously healed. He began telling everyone to have Pastor Mike pray for them and they would be healed. He told them at the cancer clinic where he went for a follow-up. He told his neighbors and friends who had different kinds of cancers that if Pastor Mike prays you will be healed. The elders had to tell him to stop saying that pastor Mike healed cancer. They told him also that God doesn’t always heal. What motivates a great cause? Miraculous Healings, YES! Severe Persecution, YES. Some scholars would say the persecution targeted the Hellenistic Jews whose widows were not being fed. Saul, who would become Paul, went after these Greek sounding Jews and they fled Jerusalem. Philip, one of the seven Greek deacons, went to Samaria and preached and healed many (8:5-8).
Persecution also motivates evangelism. God heals people at His discretion. God is more interested in healing souls than healing bodies. I believe in Miracles. I believe I see the hand of God intervene in my life, my family and my church. I also know that God doesn’t always heal and for good reasons. We are only on this planet for a short time and there is much to do to reach the loss to see them saved and redeemed and that is the greatest healing that anyone can experience.
Believe in miracles, the God kind of miracles and tell someone this Christmas how the God of miracles loves them so.