- Opportunity House
I Want to Experience Miracles
I pray that you are all doing well. As we approach Christmas, keep your focus on Jesus and who he is and what this means for all of us. I pray that today's message helps us to do this.
I would like to begin today where we left off last week with each of us as believers being the signs and wonder of God. I believe this speaks directly to the idea that each of us is a representative of God. However, it seems to me that many of us who call ourselves Christians do not, I repeat, do not want to be viewed as a representative of God. We are afraid of the responsibility of representing God, we want to avoid the difficult discussions, the difficult decisions, and the other difficulties of being a Christian in today’s complicated world.
Our signs should read “Emmanuel, God with us”. But instead our signs read something else. Some other priority, some other political manifesto, some other issue that is more important in our lives than God. It doesn’t have to be like this. It really shouldn’t be like this. I want to begin with Isaiah 7:14 today. We briefly touched on this last week.
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Emmanuel.”
This is describing the sign that Ahaz did not want to see. God was wanting to strengthen Ahaz’s faith, but Ahaz wanted no part in this. He was afraid of the responsibility that the sign would place upon him. The funny thing is, if we honestly contemplate this statement, this is where many Christians are today. They want no part in being a sign for God in today’s world. They don’t want the responsibility that comes with being a sign, a representative of God to others.
Now I must be transparent here. I am not Mr. Perfect. I ran from my call to preach for 16 years. That’s a long time to run. I would love to point my finger at other people and circumstances in my life that I could blame for fleeing my call to preach. But I really can’t. I was afraid of the responsibility. There’s that phrase,
I was afraid.
Isaiah spoke to those of us who fear last week. In case you missed this nugget, here is Isaiah 8:12b-14a,
“Do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The Lord Almighty is the One you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, and he will be a sanctuary…” My testimony as one who used to fear is simply this, don’t. Do not fear representing God. It is a waste of time. More so, it is unnecessary. The responsibility that we are afraid of assuming comes with many blessings. Take it from a preacher that made the mistake of fearing responsibility. Don’t miss the blessings. Be involved in God’s work, don’t hide from it. The blessings far outweigh the concerns that we fear. In fact, fear is the tool that Satan uses to keep us from responding to God’s call. Fear is what kept Ahaz from putting God to the test. Fear is what kept me from preaching for 16 years. That’s 25% of my life. Don’t be like Ahaz. Don’t be like me. Don’t give in to the fear. Instead, listen to what God’s word is saying to us. Look at Isaiah 7:14, this is describing a miracle. Can anyone deny that this is a real miracle? “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son…” How many of us have met a pregnant virgin? Do we even need to ponder this as a miracle? Can we easily agree that this is indeed a great sign, a miracle of a sign? Another thing, many signs in the Old Testament were of a quickly fulfilled nature. By this I mean that within one or a few years the sign would be confirmed. But this sign for Ahaz, from the lips of Isaiah, came 700 years or so later. Let’s move to the New Testament, the book of John, chapter 1, verses 1-2. For those of us who need this, this is a history lesson on Jesus. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” In the beginning, this is the real beginning, at the beginning of creation. Jesus, the Word, was with God in the beginning. Jesus was there. Not only was he with God, but he was God as well. So, at that time, as he told us through the disciples, he was one with God. You remember, when Jesus was praying right before he ascended into heaven. Back to John 1:3-5,
“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” Life was in the Word, Jesus Christ. Jesus was involved in all of creation. Think about this for a second. Everything that was made, he made. Nothing that was created, nothing, did not come from Jesus. It all was made by Jesus. Now hang with me please. Do not forget about the virgin with the baby that Isaiah was prophesying about, right? John 1:14 will help us pull this all together. “The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” So, the Word that was with God in the beginning became flesh and made his dwelling among us. The translation is that he “set his tent among us”. So, the virgin from Isaiah 7:14, who is pregnant, is carrying Jesus, the Word, who created everything that was created. Can I get a witness? This is a miracle is it not? Please...can we all agree that this is a miracle? Which also means this, Isaiah 7:14 is some kind of sign. You want a sign from God? I’ll give you a sign, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him God with us.” See, because the Word (Jesus) was God, that means that when Jesus comes to earth as a baby born of the virgin, God is now, on earth, with us. Because Jesus is also God (part of the trinity), while he is on earth He is Emmanuel, God with us. Today, because of the Holy Spirit, God is still with us. So, do I have any miracle deniers here today? Some people today do not want to believe in miracles. Everything has to be rationally explained. I used to be this way. However, this is not me now. Now I want to see miracles. I don’t have to explain miracles, I want to experience miracles. I understand how Jesus works, as much as is explained in the Bible. I do not need the explanation though, of every miracle that takes place. I am OK with the miracle just taking place.
I want to see and experience miracles involving finances. I want to see and experience miracles involving relationships. I want to see and experience miracles where people break free from whatever chains are holding them in bondage to sin. I want to see and experience miracles that involve healing peoples’ minds and bodies. I don’t need to explain miracles, I want to experience miracles. Every year we speak of a baby Jesus being born to his virgin mother Mary. We have lost the sense of this being a true miracle from God. This Christmas, I want to experience this miracle of a baby boy born to a virgin mother. I do not need the details. I know the details, but to me the details are unnecessary. Because I want to experience this miracle. Let's experience this miracle together. Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God. Blessings, Thad Brown Opportunity House and Harmony UMC