September 4, 2022

Modern Day Miracles September 4th, 2022

Passage: Acts 9:31-43

God of truth and wisdom, send us your Holy Spirit as we listen to your Word. Refresh our understanding and equip us to respond to you in love, for the sake of Christ, our Lord. Amen.

This morning is a morning of miracles. In our reading from Acts we heard of the Apostle Peter traveling around among the churches of Judea and Samaria, ministering to them in the power of Jesus Christ.

And the focus of Peter’s ministry in this morning’s lesson is on the performing of miracles, the first one of healing, the second, bringing someone back from the dead. Now this wasn’t the first time Peter had performed such miracles, not long after the Day of Pentecost, when the gift of the Holy Spirit had descended upon the apostles, Peter had healed a lame man at the gate of the Temple in Jerusalem. Here’s what took place, “Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.”  And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.” (Acts 3:1-9)

Peter took no personal credit for this miracle, but rightly attributed it to the power of God working through him by the grace of the Holy Spirit. And in witnessing this miracle many people came to faith in Jesus Christ, which raised the ire of the leaders of the Temple. We’re told that, “And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.” (Acts 4:1-4) Again we see how the early disciples of Christ faced many challenges but preserved and brought many people to God through Jesus.

The next day Peter and John were taken before the council of elders and there forced to defend their actions. This is what happened, “But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.’ And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened.” (Acts 4:19-21) They made such a strong defense that the elders could do nothing but make threats against them.

But these threats did nothing to discourage Peter and John and they immediately returned to the preaching of the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ to the people of Jerusalem. The great physician and apostle Luke tells us, “Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon's Portico. None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.” (Acts 5:12-16) Such was the power of Peter to perform miracles that the people thought that even his shadow could heal them.

Peter continued on with his preaching and healing, and as the number of followers of Christ increased, he began to move beyond the walls of the city of Jerusalem. In this morning’s reading we find him in a called town called Lydda, today known as Lod, which is located about ten miles from Tel Aviv. And it was there which we hear of another one of his miracles, we’re told, “There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed. And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.” So how does that work for those of you with children or grandchildren when you tell them, “Rise and make your bed”? That would be a modern day miracle!

The story of Peter then leads us to another town, Joppa, which is part of modern day Tel-Aviv. It was there in Joppa which we read about Peter’s greatest miracle, bringing a dead person back to life. A woman by the name of Dorcas, who was a believer and well respected member of the community, had died. The followers of Jesus in Joppa knew that Peter was in nearby Lydda and had no doubt heard about him healing the paralysed man, so they sent a couple of men to ask him to come to help them in their grief. This is what happened, “So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. But Peter put them all outside and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, ‘Tabitha, arise.’ And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then, calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.” By the grace of God and through the work of the Holy Spirit, Peter was able to bring Dorcas back to life.

Now the passage telling of the paralyzed man being healed by Peter ended with this line, “And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.” and the story of the raising from the dead of Dorcas concluded with, “And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.” So, doesn’t that make us wonder that if Peter used miracles to open the door for the gospel and bring so many people to Christ, why doesn’t God use that method more today?

Certainly, the gift of immediate and dramatic healing which God gave to Peter and other leaders of the early church has largely passed. And I think the reason is that in the early days of the church it was struggling with so much opposition that it needed some indication that God was with them. And so, God, through the apostles, performed miracles. And in the early days of the church, the miracles took place in order to show that God was in their midst. But now that the Church, being followers of Christ, is well established such dramatic signs of God’s power are not needed. We may think we need miracles some Sundays, for many people know about Christ but choose for whatever reason, usually worldly desires, to not follow him.

And yet, modern day miracles do exist in many parts of our lives. Just think of the advances which have been made in medicine. The first hip and knee replacements were done in the middle 60’s, now they are so routine that our biggest complaint is that the waiting time is so long to have one done. So, just like that paralysed man whom Peter healed, many people through the miracles of modern medicine are able to walk again.

And in the vestibule of our church, we have a recent invention, a defibrillator, which will restore a normal heartbeat, or in some cases restart a heart that is stopped. With the proper training anyone can use it. While it’s not quite a dramatic as Peter bringing Dorcas back to life after she had been dead for some time, it’s not that much different.

So, God, working through people, is still performing miracles in our lives today. But at the same time let’s never forget that any healing of the body is, at best, temporary. Everyone who was ever healed in the New Testament days died later on. The bodies which we have now are only temporary, what God cares about is the healing of our souls, which are eternal.

When someone comes to accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour, through the Grace of God they are promised eternal life, which is the greatest of all miracles. There is no greater testimony to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus than a person who has been made new by the saving work of the Lord God in Christ. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 9:9)

So, this is the miracle we need to be looking for today, reminding people that God is still at work in our world. We should live a life that sounds the alarm, alerting the world that there is a God who is willing and able to act on our behalf. For as long as we are here in this realm, we must get up and stand up and bear witness to the kingdom of God here on earth. There is no greater challenge but there is no greater reward for lost souls.

Let us Pray:

Heavenly Father, since the harvest is plentiful, please send labourers to proclaim your word of salvation to those who have not accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. May the miracle of the Grace of Jesus Christ, freely given, touch their hearts. We pray for the courage and boldness to witness to those who do not yet know you. Help us live in such a way that the light of Christ is seen in our lives. Amen

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