Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; February 15, 2015; Matthew 16:1-4

Scripture for this Sunday: Matthew 16:1-4

You can read it here: {Click Me}

Hymns for this Sunday:

UMH 133 – Leaning On the Everlasting Arms
UMH 88 – Maker in Whom We Live (Verse 3)
UMH 156 – I Love to Tell the Story

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The last three weeks we have been looking at miracles. There is not a human being alive today that has not asked for a miracle at one time or another. I also think that there is not a human being alive that has not experienced a miracle in his or her own life. Most miracles that we experience go unnoticed or unrecognized. That asking for miracles and not recognizing them when they occur happens IN PART because we live in a fallen world. We are free and able to make choices that put our actions either in accord with God’s guidance or against it; we call this ability “Free Will.” Since the Original Fall happened it is in our nature to make irrational decisions and choices that separate us from God.

Our good intentions, irrational decisions and wrong choices manifest themselves in conflict, illness, bad/unproductive habits, and addictions; and eventually they come to haunt us. It is usually during those uncomfortable and anxious times that we ask God for a miracle: a healing, a financial windfall, for a difficult situation to resolve itself, for something to happen that will take our pain away.

In the last three weeks we looked at three different miracles.

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We started this journey by looking at the healing of the paralyzed man and we saw that Jesus healed the man after seeing the faith of his friends. Not only did they have faith, they were willing to put their actions behind that faith (navigate crowds, take roof apart, carry their friend to Jesus). “When Jesus saw their faith” (Mark 2:5) he healed the man.

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Then we looked at the miracle of multiplication. The way the story goes, Jesus was trying to take some R&R in a secluded place. When Jesus and the Disciples got there, they discovered a multitude of people hoping to spend time with him and to hear him preach. We saw that there was some food on that lake-shore (all of the Gospels agree that there were at least five loaves and two fish); we also saw that there was definitely not enough food to feed everyone. We saw that when the available resources were “surrendered” to God, that is when the miracle of multiplication happened.

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Then last week we looked at the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman and we saw that the miracle of her daughter’s healing that she was asking for was rooted in discomfort and anxiety. That story hints that miracles happen when there is physical and emotional discomfort; miracles address that discomfort. Miracles are God’s response to our needs.

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To Summarize, in the last three weeks we saw that:

  • Miracles are rooted in our faith,

  • Miracles happen when we surrender ourselves, our resources and our needs to God,

  • Miracles meet and address our fears and anxieties and miracles address circumstances that are beyond our control. {“The Sign of Jonah” (Matt 16:4)}.

Proviso: Not all our needs are addressed by miracles.

Today I want to share with you some of the miracles that I witnessed on my life’s journey.

{Illustrations from the personal practice of ministry:
  –  Story from NICU
– Story from the mission trip to Cuba
– Story from cross-cultural trip to Nicaragua

}

What’s in it for us.

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1) None of us have complete understanding of God, or miracles, or God’s Grace and Love on our own. What each of us has is what we can see through the lens of our experiences; each of us has a piece of the puzzle. More adventuresome among us may have two or three pieces of the puzzle but none of us individually have the complete picture. When we come together, surrender our individual egos and understandings we learn from each other, we grow and mature in our understanding of God. John Wesley called this process a Journey of Christian Perfection (sanctifying grace).

2) We have a lot of noise in our lives. When we are willing and able to surrender our “noise” and our “possessions” to God, God uses us as instruments in God’s hands. {The Spirit Song}

3) Miracles happen to address a need, to address a discomfort, to address some sort of pain (in my experience more of an emotional than physical pain).

(Proviso – The Miracle of Transfiguration – (Matthew 17:1–9, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28–36) – is the only miracle that I can think of at this time that did not address a need or discomfort)

God performs miracles and we are active participants in the outpouring of God’s Love and Grace. Miracles reinforce faith; through miracles God challenges ordinary people like you and I to strive to be the best versions of what God created us to be and in the process to perform extraordinary feats of faith that give us a glimpse of the loving nature of our Creator.

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{Illustrations}

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