– Today I want to talk about miracles. And not just miracles that happen in the Bible but miracles that can happen personally – in your life! And miracles to see as a church. Miracles come from God-given opportunities to exercise our faith in God’s power. God is in the miracle business. He is God of the impossible.
– On August 15, 1987 Howard Shultz purchased a small chain of 17 coffeehouses named Starbucks in Seattle, WA for $4million. Shultz says in his autobiography, Pour Your Heart Into It, “This is my moment, I thought. If I don’t seize the opportunity, if I don’t step out of my comfort zone and risk it all, if I let too much time tick on, my moment will pass. I knew that if I didn’t take advantage of this opportunity, I would replay it in my mind for my whole life, wondering: What if?” Howard said his great goal was to merely open a store in Portland,Oregon. But a couple decades later there are over 19K stores in 58 countries and the company is worth upwards of $10billion. Shultz seized his opportunity.
– Did you know the English word opportunity comes from the Latin phrase “ob portu”. In the days before modern harbors, ships had to wait till flood tide to make it into port. The Latin phrase “ob portu” referred to that moment in time when the tide would turn. The captain and crew would wait for that one moment and they knew if they missed it they would have to wait for another tide to come in.
– Opportunities are given to us to exercise our faith in God’s power and purposes for our life. When we see them, we must seize them or we will miss out.
– But have you ever noticed that opportunities are often disguised as obstacles. These moments of faith are often at the most inopportune time and sometimes in the most inopportune places.
- side note: the Chinese word/character for “crisis” is made up of two characters – one that means “danger” and the other that means “opportunity”. Opportunities are a crisis of faith!
- Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would draw near to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
- Acts 2:22 “Jesus is a man accredited to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through Him.”
Today’s message is asking you the question, “Do you have faith in God for a miracle?” In this passage we will see 2 ways miracles can happen.
EXAMINE Luke 9:1-17; 10:1-2
Luke 9:1-10 Miracles in our church
Miracles can happen when we obey God’s commands.
Jesus has been teaching his disciples both directly and indirectly. Last week we saw that God orchestrated a series of circumstances to build the disciples’ faith in Jesus’ identity: Jesus overpowered Satan (Luke 4); Jesus heals demonized & sick (Luke 4); Jesus cleanses lepers and heals paralytics (Luke 5-6); Jesus brings life from death (Luke 7); and Jesus calms storms (Luke 8). They have seen Jesus’ power and authority and are now being sent out to do the same. Their assignment is two-fold: 1) proclaim thekingdomofGod/ preach the gospel, and 2) heal others. These assignments were an extension of Jesus’ ministry, not of their own power and authority. And as they obeyed, they saw God at work.
Why is Jesus giving this command? Why send out the disciples when he could do the work himself?
µ There is joy in partnership. The 12 disciples were to go out in mission together. Later we see this pattern of partnership repeated when Jesus sends out the 72 to go two by two (Luke 10:1). Further, as they went out they were to find receptive homes who would support and share in the ministry to spread the gospel.
Christian unity and partnership is a powerful witness of God and the gospel (John 17:20-21)
àWhy we encourage missions through :
– Bible Groups – Ministry Teams – Church Partnership (GBB, ABA/BCMD/NAMB/IMB)
µ There are many souls to reach. The crowds of people surrounding Jesus could not be adequately taught and ministered to; the harvest is plentiful but the laborers few (Luke 10:2). Jesus was limited in His humanity but His plan was to equip disciples and empower them with His Word and His Spirit. Jesus’ method was not to pool an audience but to prepare an army (John 14:12).
à Because we have seen minimal growth over the last two years does not mean we can be satisfied when there are thousands, literally thousands of people in our community who will spend eternity in hell if we do not act in obedience to the Great Commission.
µ Christian obedience is the response to, not the merit of, God’s love.
John 15:9-11 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full.”
illustration contrast: A woodpecker continuously knocking at a tree and while doing so lightning strikes. He thinks to himself, look at what I did. May we realize our obedience is a mere reflection of the greater power of God to work through us. (2Cor 3:5 “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God”)
apply: In verses 7-9, we see that Herod the tetrarch heard about Jesus and the disciples’ ministry.
– Is there anyone taking notice because of your obedience to God?
Miracles can happen when we trust God’s provision.
Jesus sent the disciples out to proclaim the gospel and heal others but he gave them curious additional instructions. He told them not to take surplus resources: no staff, bag, bread, money or additional clothing. The reason was so that they would experience the power of faith and trust in God’s provision. God raised up people and resources for their ministry to be successful, based on their faith and obedience.
As we seek to obey God’s commands, often it comes with obstacles. But we must remember that obstacles are opportunities to exercise faith. When we show trust in God and that our hope is not in ourselves or our own resources, we discover God’s blessings in ways we could never imagine.
The apostle Paul said, “I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:12-13, 19).
µ God’s provision is in the harvest. We must not fret over whether we have enough in the budget, or when we’ll have enough volunteers, or we’re running out of parking spaces and building space. God knows exactly what we need and as long as we are faithful to obey and trust then the resources will be provided in the harvest.
µ God’s strength is in our weakness. When we understand our inadequacy we begin to see God’s capacity. Our strength is rooted in God’s power not our own resources (1Cor 1:18, 2:1-5).
ð As a church, what expectations for miracles do you have?
- Salvation of souls
- Sinners transformed by power of the gospel
- Spiritual & numerical growth that launch a great movement of God
If you expect to see these things then obedience will be required.
- Proclaim the gospel
- Bring healing through ministry care and prayer
If you don’t expect to see these things, you are not a disciple and miracles will elude you.
Luke 9:11-17 Miracles in your life
Miracles can happen when you obey God’s commands and trust His provision.
After the disciples experienced the miracles of seeing lives transformed for God’s kingdom they became exhausted. They poured themselves out in ministry and they needed time to spiritually re-fuel. Jesus withdrew with them to a small town but the crowds followed. Remember, God-given opportunities and miracles come at inopportune times and places. God is not on our time schedule, we must get on His!
As the crowds came and the day moved forward, the people became hungry and restless. The disciples’ solution was to send the crowds away. But Jesus’ told them to get personally involved, “You give them something to eat” (9:13). The disciples found 5 loaves of bread and two fish to feed upwards of 10-15k people. Jesus instructed them to obey His command and trust His provision, which He multiplied the fish and loaves to satisfy the crowd to the fullest extent. Even more, there was enough for each disciple to pick up a full basket of leftovers. Jesus was making a point the disciples would never forget, obey and trust.
When it comes to miracles, God can do anything… but He seeks your cooperation.
– Many Christians seek magic (easy) rather than miracles (faith challenge). We expect God to simply remove all the obstacles without any personal involvement and growth in our faith.
- Money problems – God’s miracles often come through wise stewardship
- Health problems – God’s miracles come through treating bodies as temple of Lord
- Relational problems – God’s miracles come through biblical agape love, purity, forgiveness
- Decision problems – God’s miracles come through wisdom in Scripture and godly counselors
- Emotional problems – God’s miracles come through worship, praise, prayer, thankfulness
– In summary: Without God, you cannot; Without you, God will not
- So, if you are expecting and seeking miracles… here is your involvement
ð Are you obedient to the commands of God?
– Have you trusted Christ for salvation?
– Are you partnering with a church as a meaningful member in ministry service?
– Is there neglect, apathy or willful disobedience to God in your life?
ð Are you trusting God’s provision?
– Are you displaying worry, stress, or impatience?
– Are you more afraid of your circumstances or what others are saying/doing than pleasing God?
In answering these questions, pray that the Holy Spirit will convict and lead you to a restored trust and obedience in your walk with God.
 Illustration adapted from http://theaterchurch.com/evotional/article/seizing-opportunities/; http://assets.starbucks.com/assets/aboutustimelinefinal72811.pdf
 Thought inspired from Steven Furtick http://www.stevenfurtick.com/spiritual-growth/whose-idea-was-that/