Today’s sermon

Introduction:

See if there is a clip from the Bible movie of this:

Let’s look at prayer and miracles:

A new study shows prayer helps people stay in control of their emotions and behavior. According to a story in the DailyMail, those who pray when their lives become demanding find themselves better able to cope with temptation and control their emotions.

The study, by researchers at Saarland University and the University of Mannheim in Germany, recruited participants from all faiths, agnostics and atheists. The team reported that “a brief period of personal prayer buffered the self-control depletion effect.” Previous findings by scientists show that people who try to control their emotions and thoughts suffer from more aggressive outbursts and binge drinking/eating.

“These results are consistent with and contribute to a growing body of work attesting to the beneficial effects of praying on self-control,” concluded the team.

Okay, so that is prayer, right? Now, let’s talk about miracles or the unexplained…:

 

The brand new pastor and his wife were assigned to their first church in Brooklyn and were to reopen it. They arrived in early October excited about their opportunities. When they saw the church, it was run down and needed a lot of work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve. 

They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, and on December 18 were ahead of schedule and just about finished.
On December 19, a terrible driving rainstorm hit the area and lasted for two days. After the rain stopped, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit.
He cleaned up the mess on the floor and decided to postpone the Christmas Eve service. 

On the way home, he noticed that a local business was having a garage sale for charity so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to church.


 
By that time, it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus which would arrive 45 minutes later. She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder and hung the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area perfectly.


Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet. “Pastor,” she asked, “where did you get that tablecloth?” 

The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initials of the woman and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria. 

The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were living in Austria. When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week but he was captured, sent to prison and she never saw her husband or her home again.
The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth but she told him to keep it for the church. The pastor insisted on driving her home, which was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housecleaning job.

On Christmas Eve, the church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return. One older man from the neighborhood continued to sit in one of the pews and stared. The pastor wondered why he wasn’t leaving.
The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall. The pastor explained and then the man said it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and wondered how there could be two tablecloths so much alike.


He told the pastor when the Nazis came he forced his wife to flee for her safety and he was supposed to follow her, but was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again.


The pastor then asked if he would allow him to take the man for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island, to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier.
 He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman’s apartment, knocked on the door and that day, he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine. as this husband and wife embraced each other of the first time 35 years. 

God shows up in the unexpected. Have you ever been there?

We are going to continue teaching and preaching through the book of Acts. Today, I want to look at Acts 9:32-43. We are going to look at a passage where Peter heals two people. This is the power of God at work. This is the power of the Holy Spirit at work. As we look at this passage notice Peter was willing to be involved, Peter exalted Christ and Peter let the Gospel produce fruit. Let’s read the passage:

 

Acts 9:32-43:

As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the Lord’s people who lived in Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years. 34 “Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you.Get up and roll up your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up. 35 All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.

36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor. 37 About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. 38 Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!”

39 Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. 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.

40 Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. 41 He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive. 42 This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. 43 Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.

 

  1. First exhortation is to be willing to get involved. Notice that Peter was willing to get involved. Verse 32 says that he was traveling through the regions. He was busy, yet something was about to happen and he was not too busy to be used of God.

One of my favorite pastors, Charles Swindoll was willing to get involved, listen to this story:

Somewhere along the many miles of southern California shoreline walked a young, 20-year-old woman with a terminal disease in her body and a revolver in her hand.

She had called me late one evening. We talked for a long time. A troubled young woman, her mind was filled with doubts. She had advanced leukemia. The doctors told her she would not live much longer. She checked herself out of a hospital because, as she put it, she “couldn’t take another day of that terrible isolation.”

Her husband had left her. 
Her two-month-old daughter had recently died. 
Her best friend had been killed in an auto accident. 
Her life was broken. She’d run out of hope.

She and I spoke calmly and quietly about what was happening. I did a lot of listening. There were periods when there was silence on the phone for thirty to forty-five seconds. I didn’t know where she was. I still don’t know her full name. She spoke of taking her husband’s revolver and going out on the beach to finish it all. She asked me a lot of questions about suicide.

In what seemed an inappropriate moment . . . I felt peace, a total absence of panic. I had no fear that she would hang up and take her life. I simply spoke very, very quietly about her future. I made no special promise that she would immediately be healed. I knew that she might not live much longer, as her doctors were talking to her in terms of a very few weeks—perhaps days. I spoke to her about Christ and the hope He could provide. After a sigh and with an ache that was obvious, she hung up.

Thirty minutes later my phone rang again. It was the same young woman. She had a friend who was a nurse, who used to come to our church. The nurse had given her a New Testament in which she had written my name and phone number and had said, “If you really are in deep need, I think he will understand.” By the way, the nurse—her closest friend—was the one who had been killed in the auto accident. She had nothing to cling to from that friendship but memories and this Testament. She read from it.

I said, “What does that little Book say to you?”

“Well, I think the first part of it is biography and the last part is a group of letters that explain how to do what’s in that biography.” (That’s a good analysis of the New Testament.)

I said, “Have you done that?” And she had called back to say, “Yes, I’ve done that. I decided, Chuck, that I would, without reservation, give myself to Jesus Christ. I’m still afraid; I still have doubts. I still don’t know what tomorrow’s going to bring, but I want you to know that I have turned my life over to Jesus, and I’m trusting Him through this. He has given me new hope . . . the one thing I really needed.”

It’s very possible that someone reading these words right now feels the very same way. You’re thinking thoughts that you have never entertained before, and you’re thinking them more often and more seriously. Without trying to use any of the clichés on you, I would say that this hope Christ can bring is the only way through. I have no answer other than Jesus Christ. I can’t promise you healing, nor can I predict that your world will come back right side up. But I can promise you He will receive you as you come in faith to Him. And He will bring back the hope you need so desperately. The good news is this: That hope will not only get you through this particular trial, it will ultimately take you into God’s presence when you die because you have received the gift of eternal life through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ your Lord.  

 

    1. In verse 33 he found this man named Aeneas. This man was bedridden for 8 years. Or, the text could actually say, “since he was 8 years old,” either way, Jesus heals him. We’ll come back to that in a minute. 
    2. Again, then in verse 36, this woman named Tabitha is dying and dead. Peter is busy. Peter is traveling. If there is anyone busy it has got to be Peter, right? Yet, he jumped at the chance to go and raise her back to life in verses 38-39.
    3. How do you and I do with interruptions? How are we with interruptions?
    4. I must look at the Bible, I must look at this passage like a mirror. I tend to plan out my day and I am on my way somewhere and then a family member calls, right? Maybe that interruption is ministry, possible? Is it possible?
    5. I know of opportunities when I stop to help someone or even go out of my way to help someone and I am glad that I did. So, the exhortation here is to be willing to get involved. Peter was.
  1. The second exaltation is to Be Christ exalting.

I read the following:

Now, one of the interesting things, I think, that we saw on our trip to the city of Rome and then on to Israel, was St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome, Vatican City. I’ll never forget going in that masterpiece of Michelangelo, which absolutely just beggars description. Takes your breath away even to behold the thing. And we walked in there, and I…one thing caught my eye, and I walked up to it, and it was a…a black statue of Peter about twice life size sitting on a…a little kind of a chair, a throne, really, and on about a four-and-a-half or five-foot pedestal. I noticed as I looked at the statue that his right foot was protruding, but the toe was removed. There was no toe, really, and just a shiny kind of a stub. Then I proceeded to watch, and I watched a series of people who came up and kissed that toe. A line of people just coming up kissing the toe of Peter, and I…I had two reactions. My first reaction was the same reaction that I had when I was in St. Mary’s Church, and I watched people climbing up stairs on their knees, promised that they would get one year off of purgatory for every stair they went up; and my first reaction was sorrow. Sorrow over the tragic fact that they can’t accept the word that Jesus said on the cross when He said, “Tay tellusty, it is finished.” And that they think that they must earn some salvation and that these people are trapped into worshiping these, which really are idols, graven images. Sorrow was my first reaction.

My second reaction was I thought about Peter. I thought, “This must sicken the heart of Peter.” This is just exactly what he got irritated about with Cornelius. He grabbed him, and he yanked him up, and said, “Get up.” He knows…my mind thinks about that, you know, you could almost visualize that statue coming to life and saying, “Stop doing that.” Because the one thing that Peter would’ve hated above everything would be for a whole religion to revolve around people worshipping him. He doesn’t want that. He doesn’t want that at all. All Peter ever wanted was to lift up Jesus. That’s all he ever wanted. When he was gonna be crucified, he demanded that he be crucified upside down, because he didn’t wanna be crucified like his Lord was…so he said, “Jesus makes you well.”

 

Peter was about exalting Christ in this passage and in his life.

 

    1. A thought that I have is as follows: I cannot impress people with myself and I must stop trying to do so. I must only impress people with Jesus Christ.
    2. In the next chapter, Acts 10:25, Cornelius will try to worship Peter and Peter will stand him up and only exalt Christ.
    3. Notice in verse 34: Peter said, “Jesus Christ heals you…” We do not want to draw people to ourselves because we cannot do anything for them. We need to draw people to Jesus.
  1. The third exhortation is to be Fruitful:
    1. Watch Jesus bear fruit as He did in this passage.
    2. In each of these miracles it is about the Gospel.
    3. Verse 35 it says all heard about the miracle and turned to the Lord and then again in 42 the same thing, all heard and believed in the Lord. 

 

 

I read the following

You know, I was sitting with a faculty of unbelievers, unbelieving faculty of this school and I sat in the midst of them and the headmaster of the school wanted me to take the time to do it…talk with them. Anyway, I had spoken at the school for three days in a row and shared Christ with them. We had a wonderful time about, oh I don’t, 25 students received Christ, the football coach received Christ and we had a chance to work with him. But he said, I want you to come and talk to the whole faculty. So last week I sat down with this whole faculty. And of course, a lot of them had all these philosophical arguments against Christianity, all kinds of things, you know. And so I sat there and they were pumping questions. And so they had really been rapping my commitment to Christianity and why I thought Christianity was so great. And that they were offended and I don’t buy it and all this kind of stuff.

And so finally, the headmaster says, you know, he says, I teach economics and he says I don’t mind if people get excited about free economics and you don’t mind…he pointed to this guy in English, he says you don’t mind if people get excited about poetry and you don’t mind they get excited about higher mathematics and you don’t mind if they get excited about history and you don’t mind…and he said, well, why are you guys so uptight when somebody gets excited about Jesus Christ? And he looked at me and said couldn’t you answer that? Hmmm?

I was ready let me tell you. So I simply said this. I simply said it’s very easy to explain. All those other things are just an addition to your life. What is so offensive about getting excited about Jesus Christ is you’ve got to crucify your ego, recognize you’re a vile sinner, reject everything you’ve lived for turn around and go God’s way and that’s offensive. Got very quiet. Jesus isn’t a turn on, He’s a turn around. And aren’t you glad they turned to Him?

If you want an effective personal ministry, just do two things, get involved in what God’s doing already and live to lift up Jesus Christ.

That is the Christian life

Let’s pray

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